#63 Use Your Voice

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year! My hope is that 2019 is everything you desire it to be!

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#63

Use Your Voice

The phrase ‘use your voice’ is interpreted differently across gender, culture, and age but for the purpose of this writing, it is specifically referring to the effort of speaking the words that run through your mind and heart. You may wonder why that isn’t a universal automatic event because certainly, some people speak with very little consideration and yet, so many do not.

The Unspeakable

Perhaps as soon as we learn to speak we realize that there are things not to be spoken. It’s not polite to verbally address someone’s size or age; to ask about their income or sexual interests; or to openly condemn or criticize. We’ve learned how to be politically correct and how to keep the peace. All of this however, comes at the price of forgetting how to ‘use our voice’.

Shut up & Shut down

When we discover or realize that by speaking our mind or sharing our heart – we may experience negative consequences, we tend to adopt coping mechanisms to make communication easier. In many cases, it stimulates the reflex of shutting down and silencing those thoughts and feelings that might otherwise be shared. We may have grown up with a parent who wasn’t open to other opinions or lived with a spouse who lived within rigid parameters. We might live in a strict culture.

There may also be internal factors that keep us from vocalizing our thoughts; ‘will people still love me?’, ‘ will I sound stupid?’, ‘will anyone pay attention?’. Sometimes, it is the inner voice that controls our courage to vocalize.

Listen & learn

The first step in learning to use your voice is listening carefully to your thoughts and deciphering what you want to say. Clear out the clutter and get to the heart of the matter. Once you do that, make sure to deliver the message in a clear and constructive manner so that it can be heard. Learn how to avoid blaming language, use “I” statements, and offer solutions. Learn to have confidence in your thoughts, knowledge, and presence.

Delivery

Using your voice doesn’t mean that you automatically say everything that comes to your mind without thought and intention. Making sure to speak with clear intention is perhaps, the most important element. Choosing every word – especially when confronting a problem – on purpose is often the key to a successful outcome. And right behind that is the requirement to speak everything in kindness. Confrontation doesn’t have to be ugly to be effective.

If you find that this is an area of your life that could use more resolve, consider a New Year’s resolution to more effectively…

Use your voice.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#232 Say No

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#232

Say No

Are you a people pleaser? Are you challenged to say “no” when people ask you to do something? Are you afraid to let people down or disappointment them?

Full Plates

For those of us that are people pleasers, it is particularly challenging to experience the effect of disappointing people. We tend to over commit ourselves in an effort to meet the things we believe are expectations from others. We crowd our calendars, we stretch our limits, and we spend too much time frazzled as we strive to complete our over extended agendas.

Use Your Voice

Often, we know we are pushing too far… moving past comfortable as our mind screams “NO!” to our unhearing vocal cords that are deaf to our hearts whispers. Before we know it, the word “ok” escapes even though our internal warning systems are vibrating through our physical system. It’s vital that we learn to let our internal voice make become audible and speak the words that our brain is trying to vocalize.

Self Care

Honoring our own time limits and personal space is one of the most elementary components of self care. Before we can take care of others and meet all of their needs, we must make sure to charge our own batteries; stay mentally and physically strong enough to meet the demands of our own life. When we put others needs before ours consistently, we rob ourselves of the ability to stay ‘charged’.

Let ‘Em Down Easy

There isn’t any reason to be brash or offensive as we reject the desires or expectation of others. Most people will understand if we’ve maxed out the hours in our days. Learn to say “I’d love to but I can’t right now” or “I need to finish a few things before I can take on something else.” or … you could just…

Say “no”.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Photo by Isaiah Rustad on Unsplash

#358 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

My goal, for those of you who are curious, is to share a daily life lesson, tip, or hack. They are the things I want my children to know and the things that I teach to clients. They are the things that make my life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#358

Just do it

This is one of those little pieces of advice that I must remind myself of over and over again. It’s something I know to do and yet I am resistant much of the time for a variety of reasons. It has been the Nike slogan for thirty years now and we still see it subliminally on television and in print media. Additionally, it’s been the focus of a sticky note in my home through the years more often than not.

The inner voice I hear that says “just do it” isn’t from a Nike commercial. It is a gentle and mostly loving – sometimes frustrated, innate reminder to move forward. It’s the message I give myself when I feel hesitation; when I know I am resisting.

The vocal persuasion of “just do it” when it comes from a known, inner, strong voice is significant. It’s more powerful coming from the self than from anywhere else if it is supportive and encouraging. As a dominant phrase in individual self-talk it can be a motivating reminder to stretch beyond your comfort zone, to try one more time, or to finish.

The next time you find yourself hesitating in a task, a creative effort, or an uncomfortable introspection be self-encouraging.

Just do it.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Photo by Asja. on Foter.com / CC BY

Loving Contradiction

“What women rightly long for is spiritual and moral initiative from a man, not spiritual and moral domination.”  ~ John Piper

We were members of a Lutheran church not far from our home that was undergoing a major transition, moving toward a more spiritually inclusive, contemporary practice. The pastor had returned from some mission work in Central America where he had experienced a transformative epiphany. He formed a men’s group and invited Hubby to join him. In addition, small home groups were established to encourage the personal development of the Holy Spirit within our congregation. We were traditional Lutherans – I was a traditional Catholic, practicing to become a Lutheran – and we were transforming into contemporary Christians. We were becoming comfortable with waving our arms in the air during melodic praise, vocalizing a random ‘amen’ when something poignant was spoken, and dictating prayers beyond those that had been written for us by saints.

*no disrespect intended here, simply pointing out that this behavior was ‘non-traditional’ for both of us.

Something inside of me was stirring. Occasionally, I experienced a deeply intrinsic ‘knowing’- a sensation that I was encountering a sublimate and perfect truth. It was as if I was looking intently into the eyes of love and acknowledging its abyssal source. Those moments were few and far between but they were intense and they pierced me. I was hungry for more and began searching for ways to satisfy my appetite.

Something was happening in Hubby as well. I can’t speak as to what it actually was but I saw an awakening in him too. I’m not sure what actually woke up but I know he was experiencing challenges. In many ways, it appeared he was having a spiritual revolution, a burgeoning emotional war, but it seemed to be drawing him closer to family, to me. I was not complaining. In my mind, the closer he was to God, the closer he would be to me, to his commitment of marriage, and of our home.

It was, that the Pastor responsible for this metamorphosis evolved a bit too much for the comfort of more traditional congregants and he was encouraged to find another flock to lead. He gathered those of us who had made the deep water dive with him and we formed a new entity; a church attuned to Scripture and spiritual growth more fundamentally than any other religious experience I’d yet had. I loved much about this church. I really enjoyed the fellowship, the music, the intimacy within our community. Hubby and I were both on the new board, leading home groups, and on different worship/leadership committees. We were busy. It felt great to be a part of something new and growing, in many ways, as we were giving birth to our daughter, we were also giving birth to a renewed faith and commitment.

Consequently, my prayers – frankly, all of my spiritual energy was being directed into making my marriage reverent. The Pastor’s wife guided us ladies in the art of submission. “It was God’s will”, she said, “that we submit our desires to our man. That we trust him to provide for us, not only in the material dimension, but also in the emotional. She explained that submission was about TRUST”. I was already suspicious about trusting my man. He had lied to me about smoking, he had let me down about quitting, he was suspect about why things had changed so dramatically… I was not very open to the concept of trusting. In fact, I was downright stubborn about it. In every single prayer I prayed, I sought guidance to find, honor, and embody submissiveness in the way that we were being taught. I struggled and developed impatience, frustration, and ultimately anger that I was being led to trust someone that didn’t feel ‘trust worthy’. I felt as though I was failing.

In the interim, I was reading the bible. Peter, Colossians, Ephesians, Corinthians, Timothy, and Matthew. They all reinforced the idea that if I was Holy, my husband would follow suit. I ‘heard’ that it was my job – in my submissiveness – to honor my husband and my God, regardless. There was an incredible conflict in my heart over this proposition. I was experiencing God in a way that felt comforting and beautiful yet the idea that I was to submit myself completely to my man in all of the things he asked of me was contradicting my heart. Our pastor tried in vain to help me settle this internal dispute but it just wasn’t to be reconciled. Ultimately, the banter in my mind was too much and I resigned myself to how I understood the concept of submission – just do what he asks.

Frankly, I wasn’t very good at it. I have control issues and the concept of total surrender was unable to take root in my psyche at large. Instead, I opted to surrender in the bedroom. His desires became the focus of my attention. If he asked me to wear high heels, I wore high heels. If he wanted to watch porn, we watched porn. If he wanted to talk dirty, I talked dirty. (Well, actually that part I had to practice… I bought Forum magazines to learn the proper vocabulary.)

What became the most problematic for me was the discrepancy in my own mind about what constituted ‘sin’ in terms of sexual behavior. On one hand I recalled the Catholic teaching that Rocky and I had participated in that taught whatever happened between a husband and wife and was consensual, was honoring your love for one another and therefore, honoring God. Then there were the thoughts about respecting women and the line that separated disrespectful behavior. Where was that line? And more thoughts about what was inherently authentic for me – as a woman. I didn’t have a broad repertoire of sexual interests necessarily although I enjoyed physical pleasure to be sure. I was curious about many things but experienced a very blurred line between the limits of my personal desire and the need for me to submit to desires of my husband which encompassed a much larger, comprehensive, and broad set of variables.

I experienced a rather continuous flow of antagonistic chatter in my mind. Internal criticism and chiding coupled with self-talk that pushed for conformity and compliance so that my marriage could be free of conflict. In the end, I consciously moved myself into compliance via the least resistant avenue. I convinced myself that I was working to be a better wife even if it meant that I was not listening to my inner voice. I found myself focusing on meeting the needs of others over my own once again and persuaded my heart that it was in the name of my faith.

Day by day I was actively engaged in promoting the vision of myself, of us, and of our family as blooming Christians, moving closer to God in our tithing, being prayerful, and committed to building the Church. Night by Night I felt a contradiction tugging at my soul.