I’ve mentioned a handful of times in my writing that I’ve been invited on a journey to find my own voice. Of course this means I’m practicing finding my writer’s voice, but really what I’m doing is finding my soul’s voice.
Many factors have contributed to my not knowing what my soul’s voice sounds like. Things like broken relationships, abuse (from an old boyfriend), shame and negative voices have all been contributors for me. When you’ve lost your voice and your self’s “true North” like I have, you feel disoriented, disconnected and small. You feel afraid to be seen, because you’re not really sure what other’s are actually seeing, since who you are is lost on you.
Finding my voice has everything to do with connecting with the person God intended and created me to be. It was never His intention for me to feel lost, afraid, disoriented, disconnected or small. He designed me to feel loved, confident, worthy, secure, guided. This journey is a deeper discovery of how I grasp onto these truths with my own hands, how I believe them, deep in my soul, for myself.
Yesterday I may or may not have had a small, ever so childish tantrum about just wanting to “arrive” in this journey of finding my voice. Some days, the journey is tiresome, old, even difficult. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just arrive at the journey’s end and enjoy the beautiful result in all it’s glory? But that’s not how it usually arrives. I was reminded that to truly experience solid, lasting transformation we must just show up every single day and be committed to putting one foot in front of the other.
And that’s what I’m choosing to do.
And something inside me keeps whispering to me that I’m not the only one on this journey of finding their voice… So here’s a little of what I’m learning.
1. To Acknowledge the TRUTH About the Pain From My Past.
I’ve got some pretty gnarly scars from my past. I’ve got stories and memories that are still uncomfortable for me to share. But I’m learning that true healing can’t occur until I’m ready to look at my Pain in the face and call it what it is. I need to speak the truth about my Pain and stop shoving it in the closet, believing it will just go away. If we’re experiencing shame, let’s call it shame. If we’re experiencing addiction, let’s call it addiction. If we’re experiencing depression, let’s call it depression. When we’re willing to call our pain for the truth of what it is, only then do we open our arms wide to true, lasting healing.
2. To Pay Attention to My Thoughts and Feelings (Without Judgement).
This one’s hard. I’ve spent more than a decade (maybe two) judging myself for the way I feel or what I think about certain things. I may not be able to call myself a professional at much, but this one… I’ve got it covered. In the past, if I felt angry about something I’d scold myself by saying, “You shouldn’t be feeling angry. Clearly you’re not a good enough (fill in the blank, wife, mother, friend, etc.) or you wouldn’t be feeling this way.” I’m learning that this is just a big, fat lie. It’s important to allow yourself to feel your true emotions and acknowledge them. Seems like a small thing, right? A friend recently shared with me a “cheesy” little therapy strategy where you try to visualize all of your emotions sitting around a single, long table in a board room. Anger pipes up and takes over the meeting in his tight collared shirt and suit, his slicked back hair, beady eyes, bulging neck and his fire-y red face. I look at him calmly. I tell him I see him and I hear him. I thank him for his service and then I kindly excuse him from the room. If there is anything to learn from Anger, I’m willing to take his complaints and review and process them further. I’m learning that paying attention to my feelings sounds more like saying to myself, “I see you are feeling (blank) right now. It’s ok to feel (blank). When you are ready, let’s look at what might be causing your (blank).” For an emotional girl like me, this lesson is one I need reminding on daily.
3. To Connect With my Childhood Loves.
No. I’m not learning to research and connect with old crushes from elementary school (they were far and few between anyway since I was homeschooled!). In fact, I’m learning to remember what made me feel alive when I was young. What made me feel free and lovely and ME? For me, this has meant embracing my tom-boyish side whom I’ve forgotten for many, many years. In a very practical sense, this has looked like me going shooting a handful of times at a range with my husband. Foreign as it may sound to many, the experiences made me feel alive and empowered and ME. At the same time I’m embracing the elegant side of me who always claimed that sparkling, glittering GOLD was her favorite, favorite color. Watch out now! I’m on the prowl for all things sparkly.
4. To Trust Myself Again.
This was a hard realization for me. I couldn’t figure out for a long time why I second guess and hesitate with every decision I make. I don’t actually think it’s because I’m an innately indecisive person. On the contrary, I was a much more decisive person when I was younger. I think it actually has more to do with the fact I spent many years in an abusive relationship and acting on an eating disorder. I’ve realized that both actions were HUGE betrayals to myself. I opened myself up to excess amounts of pain and disarray by betraying who I was at my core. Years of not listening to my own soul has caused me to feel a little shaky whenever I pipe up with an opinion or decision. Can I really be trusted again? Each decision I make, that lines up with who God has created me to be, that rings true in my heart of hearts, slowly erases my past betrayals and builds self-trust.
5. To Practice Using My Actual Voice.
Another tough-y. Not exercising my honest thoughts and opinions was a way of life for me for years. Fear of not being accepted, ruffling feathers or appearing imperfect covered up and silenced my actual voice. I’m intentionally practicing finding ways to speak up when I can, share my honest feelings and allow myself to be known by others.
Do any of these strike a chord with you?
In what ways are you finding and/or using your soul’s voice?