Thursday, March 29, 2012

Owning Your Power: Finding Your Voice

One of the ways you can spot someone who is owning his power is that he has his own voice.  (Yes, yes, I know this sentence is grammatically incorrect. However, it is psychologically correct, as “owning” denotes an ongoing process.) Your power will speak with your voice: no one else is controlling your mind and heart (your power) so no one else is controlling your voice.
People who deny their own power usually have allowed others to take up residency in their heads and hearts. “This is what you should/must feel; this is what you will think. Therefore, this is what you will communicate.” ACK Polly wants a cracker!
Finding your voice is a process. You will hear or see something in an individual or read it in a book and take it out for a spin. You will watch a co-worker or a friend you admire or one of your parents and what you see resonates as True For You: so you take it on as your own… and see if it fits or not. A little adjustment here, a little there and, Voila!, “It fits!”
When I first began speaking publicly, I sounded like any number of men whom I admired. The first year or two I “tried on” any number of people (we call this “modeling”) but after a while I developed my own voice. Or did I?
What took me much longer was to develop my own sense of self: my own beliefs and ideas and emotional responses.  I was raised in a world where my beliefs, ideas, ideals and emotions were dictated. I don’t mean that someone held a gun to my head. However, the cost of having the “wrong” beliefs and such was a severe lack of approval or even outright rejection. To be as gracious as possible, it is very difficult to develop your own voice in such an environment.
Parents, I think, often miss it here, in so far as they don’t allow their children to express their honest thoughts and emotions. I am not suggesting we shouldn’t help our children process their minds and hearts toward a more healthy way of being, only that if we cut the process off – if we do not allow them to own what they are presently experiencing – they begin searching, not for what is true for them in that moment, but only for what should be thought and felt. Right Then and There. What this produces are children who no longer seek to discover their own identities but seek to be whom and what someone else says they are supposed to be.
We all have known parents who, rather than rearing their children to be individuals, instead, mold and shape them to be “whom I should have been,” or into the incarnation of Dad or Mom. “I couldn’t be or do ‘x,’ so you will do this and be that person.” “I am ‘y” so you will be ‘y,’ as well.” Sure, we have beliefs and values that we hope and pray our children will adopt as their own, but this must be done with respect for their individuality.
Years ago I was counseling a man who was struggling to find his own voice. Now, he disagreed with me as to the nature of his struggles, rejecting my observation that he appeared to always want to say what others wanted to hear. During one of our sessions he mentioned that he kept a journal. I asked him if he would mind allowing me to read some of it, noting that he could decide what I read.
 The following week, I sat across from him and began reading what he had written. It only took me two pages to have a perfect example of what I was seeking to communicate.

Monte: You have edited this.

Client: Uhhh yeah. You think I want my wife or parents to know what I really think? … I can’t believe I just said that.

Monte: I can.

Finding your voice requires that you develop your own heart and mind. While you want the input and help of others, at the end of the day it is your heart, your mind, and your power. Frankly, I have now come to the place where I would rather be honestly wrong then parroting what is right but not presently real to me.
Toward developing your own heart and mind, ask yourself: What do I believe about God, Love, Truth, Goodness, Justice, Liberty, and Beauty?
Furthermore, and more to the point of finding your voice, what is the purpose or reason for your existence? We are not here to waste oxygen: we are here to make a difference. Subsequently, finding our voice will include finding our “message.” And how do you find your message?

Start with answering these two questions:

What do I believe gives my life purpose?

What is it that I most often do for others … or at least find myself desperately wanting to do for others?

Your answers will give you insights – they will point you in a specific direction.

For your personal power to be efficacious, it must have focus. One of the ways you will be able to tell just how focused your power is will be in the clarity of your communication regarding your heart and mind.

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2011

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