An Empowered Voice
I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass. ~Maya Angelou
Young or old, we all need to learn how to kick ass to make history, to make the world a better place, to speak our truth. Why? Because if you don’t, there are people who will stand in your way and tell you that you are wrong to follow your heart and your passion and your inner knowing.
Being a nice girl shut down my voice. It shut down the ability to access my desires and go all-in for what I wanted. Even in my 50s, I was a peacemaker who pushed away conflict and feelings that might create waves of discomfort for myself and others. Old conditioning runs deep. Learning to use my voice, all of it, came in waves of speaking up and being silent again. I know I had “misbehaved” when I divorced my first husband, spoke up about family alcoholism and dysfunction, fought for my son’s health care, and became an advocate of homeschooling for my children. If you are not a people-pleaser, you might not understand why a powerful woman with a voice would still be working on her people pleasing “issues.” A core pattern can emerge again when I enter new, unfamiliar territory and when my soul is finally ready for my people-pleasing ass to get kicked to the curb. In 2013, it was time to misbehave and kick my own ass, for real.
The year my people pleasing ass got kicked to the curb…
I was 56 years old and living in a three-bedroom house with seven people, all strangers, men and women, ranging from ages 28 – 56. Everyone in the house was in a leadership coaching program with 150 people from around the world. In Los Angeles, the group of seven, signed a lease for a year of growing and learning together.
After living together for a month, we had a house meeting and focused on ways to support the growth of each person in the house. My original assignment was to practice receiving for 30 days. A game was created for me to experience and feel all of the feelings around receiving and to gain new awareness. The housemates all signed up to support me in this experience.
The rules and guidelines for me:
*Breakfast was prepared for me every morning.
* Coffee served to me at 5am while I worked on the computer and led a morning Heal My Voice phone call. (This was the hardest one of all.)
Sounds fantastic, right? Well, if you are someone who has issues with receiving, then you know that this was a form of pure torture. Where was my value if I was not participating with cleaning? Or if someone had to wake up at 5am, instead of their normal time of 8am?
Some of the insights from that month:
*I was an over-giver. (My old mantra was, “I will give 90%, if someone else will give 10%.” I thought that was a strength. How messed up was that?!?)
*I had judgements about who I thought would show up for me and who wouldn’t. (I was wrong.)
*I saw where I had limited myself from receiving because I didn’t want to be disappointed. I had learned to lower my expectations and stop asking, if I thought they might say no.
* I learned that giving and receiving is an exchange between two people. The giver has the choice on how to give. The receiver has the choice on how to receive. The exchange can have a variety of feelings and it can be graceful, inconvenient, joy-filled and messy and that’s okay. The giver can be angry and slamming things around and I can still receive with love and peace.
*Even when we feel inconvenienced, we can show up with love in our hearts. Even when someone is telling you they are inconvenienced, but they are giving to you anyway, you can receive with love in your heart. Shutting down, and not receiving, creates a disconnect from flow in every part of your life. Love, money, sex, inspiration, and connection.
To really connect with people, you have to be willing to receive. Giving is actually a “push out” of energy. It is a way of sending energy or love out.
Receiving is where we really let people in.
Someone new moved into the house, and we shared a room. She was a woman the age of my daughters and was having a hard time adjusting to the noise and rhythm of living with so many people. I responded with generosity and open arms to help and support her. I acquiesced on a few of her requests early on and instead of helping her to become part of the community, she became more demanding. Over time my “people pleasing generosity” had rumblings of resentment building. After two months, I moved into the garage apartment to create some distance. She continued to push the boundaries with me. I had been out of town working for three weeks and when I returned, she had set up her massage table in my room for her acupuncture clients. She sent me a text about how she had scheduled clients and I needed to work around her schedule. She also informed me that my bedroom was community space and could be used by anyone.
After checking in with a few people to see if something had changed in my absence, I communicated that this was my room and she needed to find another space. That night, I came home to find more of her stuff and mess in my room and it was blocking the path to my bed. I reached a boiling point and the next day I screamed at her in the kitchen with several people watching us. I was so messy and loud and out of control. “Get the fuck out of my room and if you want things in the storage part of the garage, you have to ask for my permission!”
I was so mad I was shaking. After walking to the grocery store and calming down, I walked back into the house and overheard the woman saying that she was afraid to ask me anything because I was, “such a bitch.” I walked into the kitchen and said, “That’s right. I’m a bitch and I’m going to be a bitch whenever I feel like it.” That became my mantra. It helped me to break through old conditioning. Every time I was afraid of hurting someone’s feelings or sacrificing instead of asking for or claiming what I wanted, I would think the mantra, “that’s right. I am a bitch.” It helped me to learn to set boundaries and let go of what anyone thought about me.
The practice of tuning in, asking for what I want, receiving, loving all of me and claiming my personal power has expanded the range of discomfort I can hold. It made me a better coach, mother, daughter, and friend by allowing other people to have feelings of anger, sadness, fear without needing to fix or react to it. It’s okay for people to be happy, sad, mad, glad, and express it. I can be with those feelings in a new way. Witnessing. Feeling. Observing. Listening. Taking action when guided, and speaking up, instead of letting resentment build into a volcano of eruption.
An empowered voice knows when to listen.
An empowered voice knows when to speak.
An empowered voice knows when to shout her message from the mountaintop.