Have you ever been in a situation where you wanted to speak up, but didn’t? No matter what, I’m sure there’s been a moment in life where your in-action, or having somebody else brush you off, made you feel small. Maybe you got a promotion, but were too afraid you’d be seen as “bragging” if you posted it to social media. Maybe someone has made a sexist remark in your presence that you’ve tried to brush under the rug. Or maybe you have a friend who constantly interrupts you.
It’s quite likely that whether or not you realize it, that there are times in every week, maybe even everyday where you give up some of your power and play small. And the worst part is that you don’t even realize it because it’s been so woven into the fabric of our daily lives that ignoring slights and not speaking up is as common of a routine as making a cup of coffee each morning.
First Realize, It’s Not Your Fault
The first thing I want to stress to you is that not speaking up in the past is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, just think about how we’ve been socialized by our own experiences watching our mothers and grandmothers in the world. In the 1960’s, my own mother had a boss who would chase her around her desk and if she scoffed he assured her it was “all in good fun.” If she had spoken up, pushed back and taken up her rightful space, she could have lost her job. As a single parent to my older brother and sister, that just wasn’t an option.
As you’re reading this article, the idea of giving yourself permission to speak up, instead of censoring whatever it is you’d like to say, may be really exciting. But when it comes time to actually putting it in action, you might be truly terrified. And I get it! The pushback can have consequences that range from minor to dire. But just because something is scary doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing. In fact, the scarier it is, the more amazing finally conquering your fear will feel.
Here’s How to Start Making Some Noise
You’re not here to simply observe, wish, and hope you’ll get the opportunity to shine like the light you are and maybe if it all goes well you can live the good life. So let’s get started.
Here’s the first 3 steps you’ll need to take towards making some noise:
- Take Inventory. In order to make a change, you’ll need to figure out exactly what areas of your life are the ones you are playing small in. A lot of times, this is behavior that has been nurtured in us since childhood. I’m a huge fan of self-care, but I’ve noticed that as my career has grown, I have made myself a priority, right along with my children and everyone else I know. I’m guilty of running around like a crazy woman trying to make everyone happy and get everyone to their activities, to my detriment. And as much as everyone else was happy, I was getting angrier and angrier. And guess what? No one asked me to do it. So it wasn’t their fault I was angry. I realized that for me, taking up personal space dedicated to self-care and personal wellness was 100% where I needed to take action.
- Figure Out Your Why. If we go back to my personal example of spreading myself way too thin to be everything to everyone, I had to figure out WHY I was doing this. Who was benefiting from my actions? In a work setting, you might want to ask for a promotion. What’s stopping you? The roadblock can be as simple as fear, not wanting to step out of your comfort zone, or even upsetting the complete stranger who is hogging the armrest on a plane. You’ll need to get crystal clear on what is holding you back if you ever want to get past it.
- Question Your Objectives. Now that you’ve identified what you do, and why you do it, it’s time to dig deep and question everything. Know that if you do speak up, you will upset someone. You will have someone who doesn’t like it or you. It’s going to be uncomfortable. And guess what? It’s supposed to be. You are doing it right. It’s time to take command of your life in an unapologetic way. A little embarrassment or shame is not going to hurt you. What will hurt is staying silent and living your life the way someone else wants you to.
You might be looking to take up space with your body or appearance. You might be ready to really express your emotions, no matter how uncomfortable they make others feel. Or you might just want to finally speak your mind. Taking up space will look different for you than for someone else. But that’s the point. YOU get to choose where you are going to show up as your authentic self in life. You get to set the priorities in your life. And that feeling of happiness and fulfillment that you’ll get when you do it? It proves you are on the right track.
Written by Andrea Owen.
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