I have been thinking a lot about the meaning of how I use my voice, how we listen to our inner voice, and how difficult it is to ignore the negative voice. As I continue to grow and learn how to use my voice, what I am most intrigued with is the power of the quiet voice – sometimes more powerful and dangerous. It is easy to hear the loud voices, yours and others, and then to change the direction based on what you hear. But it is the quiet, low, repetitive voice that is both haunting and damaging.
For women, I believe it is the constant quiet barrage of belittling and criticism from our families, peers, and the media. Women work hard to seek support, encouragement and positive reinforcement from those around us. My first boss after college taught me a great lesson which I only fully appreciated years later. She asked me to do something and when I returned to her office, I said, “I can’t…” She said to me, “Never say you can’t. Find a way that you can. Find the solution.” As we battle the negative chatter in our brain, it is these words that I remember from over 20 years ago.
For men, the societal pressure to provide is changing but it is still felt. Like women, men hear the negative chatter that perpetuates the demand for them to provide, be perfect fathers and to know something about sports. Recently, I was picking my daughter up from a new friend’s house and I was speaking to the parents. I saw some beautiful vintage movie posters on the wall, and asked the father, “Are you in the entertainment business?” (I already knew the mother’s profession.) He said, “No, I’m a stay-at-home dad.” To be honest, I’m not sure of the exact words or phrase that he used, but I am positive that his comfort and security in stating his position felt like a breath of fresh air. I admired the quiet power in his voice, how whole he sounded. I envied him, not that other men should sound like him, but for me – I would like to present myself with such conviction.
Use your voice with strength and love. Listen to your inner voice with compassion and truth. Listen to those voices that are kind and hopeful. Do not believe the lies told by others or those you tell yourself. Remember people hear you, your voice makes an impact, use it wisely.