Okay, it’s time to quit feeling sorry for ourselves, for not getting our needs met, for not being heard, and for not going to our favorite restaurant.
This is the year we ask for what we want—clearly, concisely, kindly, yet unapologetically.
You know how damaging it is to your psyche, your confidence, and your relationships to not speak up; yet, here we are still talking about it.
So women, it’s time to figure out what we need to do differently, do it, and reap the rewards of a life that we choose to live, and not one that we just react to.
So what are you missing? Why do you keep promising yourself to speak up in relationships, at work, in meetings, and at social occasions, and find yourself holding back at exactly the wrong moment? Don’t be too hard on yourself.
You’ve grooved a deep pattern both in your behaviors and in your brain that’s challenging to overcome without the right amount of information and energy. I’m here to help, sisters.
I’ve been in your shoes; they were tight, they hurt, and they kept me from running a really fabulous life.
Here are the steps I took to change it:
1. Figure out exactly what you want. Not what others want for you.
A few years ago, if you had asked me what I wanted out of life I would have given you an answer that reflected what mattered to my loved ones, with hardly a glimmer of what mattered to me. Whose fault was this? Mine.
I put others first and lost sight of myself. By doing so, I become resentful, bitter, and just the slightest bit bitchy; yet, I still wasn’t speaking up for myself and was just whining.
So, what do you want out of your life? What makes you happy? What’s your favorite color, your favorite restaurant, your favorite TV show? What activities make you joyful and which ones leave you bored? What do you want from a partner? Friends? Work? It is well past the time for you to figure yourself out.
Having trouble? Reach out for help.
2. Changed your mindset about speaking up.
Every time I was about to speak up, something in my brain would trigger and silence me. It sounded like this: Be quiet. You are going to embarrass yourself or make this person angry and upset. Be a good girl and be quiet. This mindset was tough to break.
I started by thinking, I matter. My voice matters. I repeated it again and again until I believed it. I changed my mindset because a fearful mindset led to insecure feelings, and thus, to rather useless behaviors.
Start with your thought process, figure out how it’s holding you back, and then change it until you believe it.
3. Start saying what you want (without apology).
This is tough. You aren’t used to doing this, but neither was I. I started to say, “I’d like you to put your own dishes away,” or, “I’m the right person for this job so I want you to hire me,” or, “It’s not okay to deny women these rights and that’s why I’m voting for so and so.”
Yep, I started very tentatively to speak up. Don’t be surprised when the people in your life push back as you start to find your voice. They aren’t used to it and they are likely to ignore or disagree with it. This is when you need to summon some big strength, leave your victim thoughts behind, stand up and say it again.
Don’t say it louder, say it nicely and firmly. Say it!
4. Look to other women for inspiration.
The less I spoke up, the worst I felt about myself. My confidence plummeted, my self-esteem was on hiatus, and I didn’t like who I was.
I looked at my incredible teenage daughter and my heart broke because this was not what I wanted to model for her. She deserved a mother who showed her how to do hard things.
Seeing me become strong, powerful, and speaking up for others and myself has helped her to do the same. There has been little else in my life that has brought me as much joy as watching her develop her own voice.
I watched other women who I greatly admired and imitated their assertiveness and well thought-out opinions. I’ve pushed my clients to do the same. When women speak up, they promote others to do the same.
Change yourself and you change the world. No pressure.
Most of us spend useless energy on resolutions that don’t change much in our lives but learning how to speak up will change every aspect of your life:
“Or you can start speaking up
Nothing’s gonna hurt you the way that words do
When they settle ‘neath your skin
Kept on the inside and no sunlight
Sometimes a shadow wins
But I wonder what would happen if you
Say what you wanna say”
–Sara Bareilles, “Brave”