Let Your Voice Be Heard, Even When It’s Shaking (Tool #5, Choice)

It’s no secret that I’m not into a one-size-fits-all system for dealing with the ups and downs of life. At the same time, it’s important for me to remind myself of the qualities I’ve strived to cultivate over the years: ones that have brought me a greater sense of passion, purpose, joy, and connection. This is the fifth in a series of blogs that detail how I personally incorporate the seven tools of my book, Your Messy Brilliance: 7 Tools for the Perfectly Imperfect Woman, into my life.  I invite you to take a deep dive with me into the value of Curiosity, Awareness, Acceptance, Intuition, Choice, Manifestation, and Your Infinite Roadmap! Please let me know in the comments how you personally address and engage with each of these important tools in your life. 

One of the bravest choices we can make is to speak from our hearts and truth, even when our voices are shaking. I know, because I’ve been there.

Like many of us, it’s taken me trial and error, self-inquiry, therapy, and a strong support network made up of women from around the world to help me realize that my voice truly matters.

And so does yours!

Every day, we make unconscious choices, from what we’re going to eat for breakfast to the route we’ll take to work. Many of the unconscious choices we make come from our fears and worries—for example, not wearing an outfit that others might deem too risqué or staying silent about a nasty joke a relative makes at the dinner table because we don’t want to rock the boat.

These choices might stem from the desire for approval and the need to feel safe. But when our choices are shaped by fear and avoidance, they keep us from being able to constructively respond to what life has placed in front of us.

But as I choose to remember, especially when I find myself sliding into a victim mindset: Life isn’t happening to me; it’s happening for me. Every challenge that’s on my path is an opportunity to dive into my messy brilliance. This requires not going into fight/flight/freeze or impulsive reaction mode, but becoming super connected to myself and my body—which I know is hard for a lot of us who have learned to disconnect.

As a devoted advocate of women’s voices, and as someone who inspires women to find empowerment even in their darkest moments, I know it isn’t easy to make the choice to be with our pain—and to then talk about it. Honestly, I still find it difficult. After I started talking about being a survivor of sexual abuse, I expected that it would free me from the burden of carrying this secret around for most of my life. Little did I know that it wasn’t that simple.

It was highly emotional to speak publicly about my sexual abuse, and what I discovered is that it often surfaced new painful memories I’d essentially blocked over the years. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, however, I knew that I needed to be transparent about my experiences and let other women know they weren’t alone. In this process, I also realized that my journey toward healing was far from over. It was just the beginning of discovering my voice, and ultimately, my own power.

I understand that a lot of women make the choice to shut down their stories, because it’s just too damn painful. Why put yourself through that all over again? But I came to the realization that while the choice to speak up about something important isn’t easy, it brings clarity over time. More than that, it brings with it the capacity to stand in solidarity with other women and their truths. And that adds up to a whole lot of powerful change.

Believe me, I know there are consequences to this kind of courage. Many people tend to project blame and shame onto the courageous souls who are willing to shine a light on the darkness in our lives. Because so many are just not willing to own, much less look at, their own shit, the truthtellers are often the ones who are judged, scorned, and criticized. And frankly, who wants to deal with that?

Some of my own family members won’t even talk to me anymore. I have done my best not to take any of it personally, but it hurts. Still, I realize that I don’t want to make choices that continue to align with my family’s unconscious secret-keeping. I want to make powerful choices that are based on my own values.

I also know that my choice to speak up isn’t just about me. It’s also about giving other women permission to step up and empower themselves. In sharing our difficult stories and choosing to speak up about what’s important, we learn that we aren’t alone. Each voice, trembling or strong, is part of a movement. Together, we have the ability to shed light on our experiences—and that light brings healing. Healing always requires the willingness to honestly face our pain and to move through it.

And yes, it’s hard, but what other choice do we honestly have?

The best thing is, none of it is about being perfect. Not by a long shot. Making powerful choices is a journey, not a destination. We will learn a lot about ourselves and each other along the way. As we make more and more conscious choices in our lives, we will discover that we have a moral obligation to keep doing so. In this way, the universe will present us with more challenges that we can then choose to take as opportunities to access our power, joy, and purpose. It might not be easy, but that’s OK. You have what it takes. And you’re not alone.

To find out more about Choice and the other tools, be sure to check out my book, Your Messy Brilliance: 7 Tools for the Perfectly Imperfect Woman. Also, let me know how you’ve explored choice in your own life! How can you connect with choice this week? (Hint: Maybe there’s an old fear you are holding on to that is making your life a lot smaller and more constricted than it wants to be. What’s one small choice you can make that will help you to break out of that fear?)

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About the Author | Kelly McNelis

Kelly McNelis is the founder of global community, Women for One, a speaker, coach, facilitator, and bestselling author of Your Messy Brilliance: 7 Tools for the Perfectly Imperfect Woman. With more than 25 years of experience as a nonprofit and small-business consultant, Kelly empowers generations of women around the world to build the relationships, community, and confidence they need to achieve their wildest dreams. She finds daily inspiration in spending time with her husband and children in her home outside of Seattle.

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