Finding My Voice

Provided by Danielle Davis from The Nurse’s Heart

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“Flowers don’t open and close according to who is walking by. They open and show their beauty regardless.” – Rebecca Campbell

A recent realization I have had is that I struggle with using my voice or “speaking my truth.” I know I am not alone in this. I believe this is a struggle for many of us – but especially for women.

What does it mean to “find your voice”? I looked up the definition and this is what Merriam Webster says: 1. to begin speaking; to become able to speak (I couldn’t speak for a moment, but then I found my voice); 2. to be able to express oneself as a writer (a young novelist who has found her voice).

That does not quite cover what it means to me. For me, finding my voice has more to do with the ability to openly express who I am and what I believe – through words and actions that resonate with my truth – despite how others may perceive me. I will take that a step further and add that it also involves a sense of dignity, compassion and grace. What I mean when I say this is that I see many people “using their voice” to criticize, belittle and demean people who do not agree with their view of the world. I mostly see this on social media. Too many folks get a big dose of courage when they are behind a keyboard. I believe that truly finding your voice, and the desire to be heard and respected, means listening to and respecting the voice of others.

I think my focus on the struggle to find my voice comes from recent observations of my own interactions with friends, family and strangers on social media. I find that I am overly cautious to “not offend” or “ruffle feathers” when I speak or write. Sometimes I choose not to speak at all because I do not believe that what I have to say will be well received or understood. Choosing not to speak is, many times, a wonderful way to respond to many situations and I am learning that silence is a very powerful tool on the journey to finding my voice. The problem comes when you remain silent despite having something to say and do so simply to appease someone or to avoid conflict.

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I am speaking of those times where you find yourself agreeing with someone just to agree, or perhaps letting someone else speak for you – while knowing that what they say is not truly representative of your beliefs. At times I will catch myself in conversation agreeing or even stating opinions that are not aligned with who I am. I am simply saying words to please the person I am talking to. I would view this behavior as odd, but many of my friends and colleagues admit to doing the same in their daily lives.

In my personal life, from a very young age, my voice was not only quieted but was ripped away from me time and again by my parents. It is where I learned to mirror or parrot what other people said in order to survive. If it ever occurred to me to speak up for what I did or did not like, my words were cast aside with a disgusted look, a slap or, if I was lucky, were simply ignored.

It was not until I was a nurse in my 20’s, when you are taught in school to be “the voice of the patient,” that I felt emboldened to speak up about what I believed in. I was not great at this when I first began to use my voice as a patient advocate, but over the years I took classes on crucial conversations and read books on non-violent communication. I learned to temper my words so there were a greater chance people would listen. Still it was confusing because there are so many unspoken rules about when and how to speak up at work. Subtlety was never one of my strong suits – for that matter neither was patience. I was a slow learner when it came to healthy communication due to my lack of exposure when I was a child. At work, it was usually due to the hierarchical leadership structure that creates a tendency of subordinates (and almost all of us are subordinate to someone at work) to agree with people in positions of authority, despite their own beliefs. This is born of protecting one’s job and career growth. I have faced this lesson time and again throughout my work life, and every time I succumbed to simply espousing false agreement with something or someone, it felt like a small piece of me died. Eventually you submit enough times you just walk around feeling all empty and dead inside. I can honestly say that in my experience corporate culture kills individuality and creativity.

So how do we find our voice when the way we are raised or the culture we live and work in does not foster a sense of safety? The start for me, as with most things lately, is what has become my favorite approach to life: self-inquiry. I am asking myself questions like:

  • What am I passionate about?
  • What am I afraid to speak about?
  • Am I worried about what other people will think of me?
  • Am I fearful that I will be misunderstood and criticized for my feelings?
  • Am I worried that I do not have enough expertise to speak on a topic?
  • Is this something that needs to be said or is silence called for in this situation?

What I have learned since starting to question my limiting beliefs is that it is important for our voices to be heard. It has never been more critical than now to speak up about who you are and what you believe in. Authenticity is key to this. It is also important to speak clearly about your values and beliefs. Do not be afraid to speak the truth of who you are. It is incredibly important to use your voice to set boundaries for yourself. Drawing a line in the sand may feel intimidating, but you will be surprised how empowered you feel. This is true with your spouse, your family, your colleagues and your boss.

I do want to acknowledge how uncomfortable it is when you start using your voice. I created this blog for many reasons, and one of which is putting myself out there for the world to see. In stating my beliefs, I am not trying to change anyone or what they believe. I am simply honoring who I am and that I am worthy of sharing my unique voice. We are all worthy.

I cannot lie – it terrifies me to think about being criticized, ostracized or ignored, but I am putting myself out there anyway. It is important that people see who I am, what I stand for and what I believe in. If they choose to label me, unfriend or unfollow me, then I truly wish them happiness and joy on their journey as our paths diverge. If you find what I say or write interesting but maybe do not agree with my view, then I look forward to learning about your perspective. I love listening to other perspectives, it is how I grow, and I welcome it. If what I say or write resonates with you, then I look forward to supporting you in your journey as a kindred spirit.

I am going to finish this post about using my voice by sharing a quote from someone else. Yes, I see the irony but it i makes me laugh to use a quote right now and perfectly sums up what I am saying…

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” – Steve Jobs

I leave you with this…Speak up! Share your beautiful and unique perspective and voice!

Sending you love and light!

Danielle Davis

57 thoughts on “Finding My Voice

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  1. A beautiful, beautiful post. So many of us are afraid to become who we are. We don’t even know who we are because we have never truly let ourselves hear what that voice wants to say.

    It is time to allow us to be us. The complete version of us. No comparisons, no imitations of others – but sitting and learning who we are.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Love the quote from Steve Jobs! Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts.
    In my case, I don’t have a problem speaking up but my husband always shuts me down and being impatient to listen, which really frustrates me. 😦

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I also am on a journey to finding my voice. The first step for me was deciding it is important, but then how do you go about that? I can relate to all your thoughts here, this really resonates with me. Thank you for the thoughtful and beautifully articulated post 💛

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I feel the same. Where and how do you begin? It is still a work in progress. For me it is about having the strengths of my convictions but also being kind and listening to others.
      Thank you so much for reading my post!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it certainly is all about balance! I think my MS diagnosis a few years ago really woke me up to the self care aspect of my life further, making it a priority and not just a piece of my life. And then a meeting with a spiritual coach last year was really eye opening to the fact that I am always trying to be everything to everyone else. What about me? It’s not selfish to figure out what it means to express myself, especially if I am doing so with kindness and compassion. And you’re right, listening well is a big piece of it all. I started my blog not long after that meeting. It’s been very cathartic of course, but I’m enjoying the journey and loving the connections I am making with other people 💛

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This is beautiful. I feel this way so many times. I want to let you know you aren’t alone In this. My darling be the voice everyone wants to hear, you need to be heard. Love yourself, speak up when you have to. Your voice is unique and anytime who doesn’t see that, isn’t even worth it. I hope you will come out stronger and better than you are. I am rooting for you 💕.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ‘Eventually you submit enough times you just walk around feeling all empty and dead inside. I can honestly say that in my experience corporate culture kills individuality and creativity.’

    I bet a lot of people are realizing that about now. I wonder how work-from-home might change that or if it will at all.
    Thanks for the post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Karin, I am so happy this resonated with you! I am working toward it every day and when people like you leave comments like that it lets me know that there are so many people out there struggling with the same thing I am. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I can identify with this post! I was stifled my entire childhood by my mother and after I left home I fell into a relationship with a guy who was pretty much like my mother. So many years were filled with the fear of speaking up, and in the last decade I have started using my voice. The problem is, so many people think that because I have voiced my opinion, I must want their 2 cents worth. Well, I’m open to hearing others’ opinions but not when they (in a roundabout way) tell me that I must be misinformed or that I need to read this or that… As if my opinion is wrong because it’s different than theirs. My circle grows smaller by the day! It’s more peaceful that way! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is amazing how many times I have been hearing a story similar to yours lately. I have to agree with your observation of people assuming you are misinformed because you have a different opinion. It is so interesting to watch so many people believe their way of thinking is the only way rather than celebrate our differences and learn from each other. Thank you so much for your comment and reading my post!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This was just beautiful and something I can so relate to. I have always been a very quiet and shy person, but I also struggled with this deep desire to be seen and to be heard. Such a conundrum! It (among other things) has actually led to a lot of therapy! But I keep plugging on. One day I will find balance, and I have a great helper in my heavenly father, Jehovah.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Looking back it’s crazy that the first time in my life I felt comfortable speaking up was about patient care. I think there are many more of us out there with a similar experience. Thank you for liking and commenting!!

        Like

  8. “I believe that truly finding your voice, and the desire to be heard and respected, means listening to and respecting the voice of others” this is so true. I can empathise with you being a woman. Nobody is a lesser being, everyone is worthy of being heard. A beautiful read Danielle, you’re really brave! Keep it up 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Amazing and inspiring. I too have felt a lack of voice many times. Mainly because of my childhood happenings, whenever I’ve let this inner voice out though, I’ve felt ‘in command’ of myself. I can not stress enough on how amazing and empowering that feeling is! I’m still learning to let it out just like you! More power to you as well kindred spirit ! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hi Danielle – that Steve Jobs quote is my most favorite. To be your authentic self is so much harder that you expect – in fact it should be the easiest because we would be true to ourselves, right? Finding your voice is a hard quest – I know it is for me but you are putting yourself out there, getting out of your comfort zone and doing what it takes – kudos to you for that. I’m on a similar journey too – looking forward to reading more of your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

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