Robin Clark | Bay Area Coach & Photographer for Women » Coach & Photographer for Women

Do You Have a Voice?

Saying what you want, speaking up for yourself, expressing yourself creatively, making decisions, and having an opinion is difficult for SO many people. It’s vulnerable. It puts you on the spot. It can be awkward, even painful.

We were taught to be good girls, good boys. Be nice. Stay clean. Be agreeable. Don’t feel too much. Go along with what others want. If they’re mean to you ignore them. Get good grades. Don’t talk back. Etc.

But like coloring books, none of us come in will-live-inside-the-lines formats. We are neither good or bad girls and boys. We are girls and boys. We have depth, curiosities, whims, passion, and purpose. We’re bold, bright, unique, sensitive, and have huge range. We have goals, gifts, and perspectives we’re here to discover. And we have a lot to express on the road to figuring all that out.

This is true for all of us. Even when we were 3 feet tall. Even when we were 10 inches tall! We had voices we sought to express in infinite ways. And almost nothing gave any of us as much fulfillment as expressing ourselves because our voices are so completely wrapped up in our sense of self. Just think of the moments you’ve felt great about yourself in your life. I’ll bet they were times you were, in one way or another, expressing yourself vibrantly. Expression and self… ’tis one an the same.

So how was it with your early training? Was your expression of thought, emotion, curiosity, and opinion respected? When you said no, was that OK? Were you allowed to be you without expectations directly or subtly manipulating you into being something other than you? Were you allowed to feel? Were you given answers to your questions that honored you? Did you feel safe?

Perhaps you were punished for speaking up or having desires. Maybe the things you said, or the feelings you felt, were used against you. Maybe you were ignored. Maybe you were compared to your siblings or classmates and made an example of.

Maybe you were shown examples of adults who felt powerless and withheld their voices and desires. Or maybe you saw adults who felt so frustrated they verbally or physically dominated those around them believing it was only at that volume they could be heard.

Maybe through all this you learned to hold your questions, opinion, and emotions in. Maybe you tried to be as perfect as you could be to protect yourself. Maybe you raged against it all and went wild. Maybe you turned your anger inward and became self-destructive in certain ways. Maybe parts of you shut down.

Perhaps somewhere along the path you became so confused and hurt by all the messages that you stopped trusting yourself and you lost easy access to being able to even KNOW what you feel, want, or need… let alone the ability to SAY it, paint it, sing it, play it, move it, live it.

Untangling all this and reclaiming ourselves and our voices is where we’re all at. It’s not only UP just because every one of us has to move through this as we evolve as humans, but it’s UP because Saturn is most undeniably in Scorpio (and will be for 2ish more years) and this is one of its big lessons for all of us: recovering our self-worth and range of expression.

You may groan at the thought of this but I think it’s the most wonderful, if not the most comfortable, gift each of us could receive. Without freedom to feel, sense, go deep within ourselves, express, and create, we do not have ourselves. We have insecure, limited selves distorted by pain seeking to cope. We have half-truths and lives lived with one foot out the door. This is not living and LIVING is what we came here to do.

5 Thoughts on Strengthening Your Voice

1. Be nice to yourself

We are SO insanely mean to ourselves. Nobody opens when criticized – that’s the sort of thing that caused you to shut down in the first place. You have to take little steps, pushing whatever your edge is, and be encouraging to yourself about it. Maybe learning how to be kind to yourself IS your big work right now. That alone could change your life.

2. Work your edge, gently

What’s your edge? Giving yourself permission to feel, say no, be soft, ask for help, be direct, be creative, be sexy, be patient, own your part, ask for what you want? Whatever your edge is, lean into it. Create an experiment around it and do it for a period of time. But do it gently. Voice and expression is like any muscle – when you expand it, it will then contract. Don’t freak out when this happens because it will happen. And contract on this level means vulnerable…

3. Being vulnerable is good

What’s your association with vulnerablity? Weak, a failure, defenseless, less than? A lot of us were given negative associations with vulnerable. But connection with ourselves and others isn’t possible without it. I LOVE and can not recommend highly enough these two videos on vulnerability by Brene Brown (watch them both here). Her work on vulnerability, shame, and expansion is ah-mazing.

4. Make continuous sound and/or dance for 10-20 minutes a day

Your resistance to this is probably so great you can’t imagine doing it. But nothing will show you what insecurities, judgments, and stories are lingering inside and stopping you than doing this… or give you a quicker way to move through them… or discover new and fabulous things about yourself. Trust me – this is powerful stuff. Try it and see.

5. *What would you express if there was no possibility of negative consequence of punishment?

This one takes the roof right off, doesn’t it? Just imagine the possibilities… if you could only succeed, be well-received, be heard, be accepted. Virtually any excuse or fear you’ve ever had that’s stopped you becomes obsolete. What’s the first few things that come to mind?

Now you know where to begin.


Sara -

Robin, I love how you always seem to hit the nail on the head of my experience. “Maybe you tried to be as perfect as you could be to protect yourself.” YES, this is what I did. And it is so boring to be perfect all the time. What freedom i am finding in imperfect expression lately. Thanks for another great post!