Seems like everybody’s talking these days about “finding your voice” and “speaking your truth”. Personally, I’ve never had a problem saying what’s on my mind. This has often been a problem for the people around me, which is probably one reason why some people think I’m dangerous.
I’m a passionate advocate of open, honest conversation — “daring dialogue” as I’ve recently heard it described. In support of this ideal I’d like to offer a few suggestions for finding and using your own authentic voice.
1.) Feed your mind to inform your voice. It’s important to consider the incubation conditions which will give birth to your authentic voice. Before inflicting your Truth on the world, ask yourself how you will generate an opinion worth going out on a limb for. Your ideas are the result of the integration of your experiences which includes everything you do, hear, see, feel, read, discuss and think. Your authentic voice is the expression of the resulting ideas.
At this point an old expression comes to mind, “Garbage in, garbage out,” which means whatever you put into your mind will come out in your words and actions. Having the confidence to speak your truth is the positive outcome of transforming that old expression into “Merit in, merit out” by choosing consciously what you spend your days experiencing.
For example, here are some experiences I chose yesterday which culminated in my authentic voice expressing through this post: I read one of my favorite blogs Peace & Projects: How to Be Heard in a Wild, Noisy World about “finding your voice.” Coincidentally, if you believe in coincidence (which I don’t), last night I was invited to attend an event, Honoring Women, Daring Dialogue, Real Conversations, hosted by Honoring Women Worldwide. Got me thinking about writing on this subject. On the way home I listened on my car radio to MPR’s The Story with Dick Gordon about The Queen of the Flowers. This touching tale reminded me of the importance of fully experiencing the mundane aspects of my daily life.
When I arrived home I discussed all this with Mr. C, further developing my ideas through conversation and feedback. Then, I jumped on Facebook and watched this video forwarded to me by my 5th grade niece — it made me laugh, reminding me that fun and humor are also crucial to the development of an authentic voice worth listening to:
2.) “Daring dialogue” is the goal — not a “daring monologue.” Once you find your voice, resist the temptation to use it to shut others up! Haven’t you seen this play out before? I’ve come to practically expect it when a new convert professes to have found his/her voice.
I remember the time a family member of mine escaped an abusive marriage, took a poetry class and wrote a poem about finding her voice. She was asked to read the poem at a large event to inspire other victims of domestic abuse. At that event she was joined onstage by her parents who held her hands, tearfully proclaiming their pride in her for speaking her truth. I commented on the irony that the very people who were supporting her onstage had abused me throughout my childhood, and still deny it ever happened. The family bard demanded that I cease my controversial comments which might “offend those who have actually been abused.”
Huh??!!… ‘Nuff said.
3.) You speak your truth whether you intend to or not — take conscious control. We should all be aware that it is impossible to express anything except one’s authentic truth. We can either express it consciously or we can do it passive-aggressively by default. Everything we say or do tells the world what we really think. The most important part of “speaking” your truth is what you put into your mind which will naturally lead to what comes out of your mouth.
This reminds me of a story told by Brenda Fong at Honoring Women, Daring Dialogue, Real Conversations:
Brenda moved to the U.S. from China when she was 18 years old. The “Minnesota Nice” woman who lived next door to Brenda’s new home invited Brenda and her husband over for dinner one night. At dinner this woman proudly proclaimed to Brenda, “I want you to know that I see you just like everybody else. I don’t see you as any different because of your nationality.” Brenda muttered to her husband in Chinese, “If she sees us just like everybody else then why did she have to tell us that?”
You alone possess your particular perspective on the world and finding your voice to express your truth can be an exhilarating process! For the best results in expressing yourself, continue to expand your point of view by wisely choosing the daily experiences which inform your personal truth. Develop and practice good listening skills and appreciation of other people’s perspectives, with varying points of view, not just your own. Be sure to listen to yourself and pay attention to the reactions of your audience to uncover truths you may be unconsciously conveying. A special note about “brutal honesty”: although it may feel powerfully cathartic to you in the fleeting moment, it’s often simply brutal to the receiver. Finally, never underestimate the value of throwing a flying turtle into the mix to make ‘em laugh!
Hey, now it’s your chance to SPEAK YOUR TRUTH! Tell me what’s on YOUR mind by commenting below!
PS: If the idea of this type of authentic communication appeals to you, then you may be interested in my new online community for writers and artists, Bloggerbrook, which is coming to Facebook in July 2012 — stay tuned for more information!