When I was a teenager, someone I respected and looked up to told me that I was too open and that it wasn’t good to open up so easily to people. This comment stuck with me, as I continue to remember it many years later. Why did it strike a chord in me? When I reflect on it now, it struck a cord in me because it didn’t feel right to me. Why would I not share who I am with other people?
I’m not sure why, but, it seems like many conversations I’m having with friends lately is about some of the challenges we are having in using our voices. I don’t mean using our voice to speak about something really superficial, like the weather or how the meal tastes. I’m talking about using our voices to share something about ourselves, how we feel, or who we are. I am finding that many of us are afraid to share at that deeper level?
Why is that? When I ask people that question, I seem to get one of the following responses:
- If I tell you who I am and what I believe, you may not like and accept what I have to say and ultimately you many not like me. At some level I am afraid to be different than other people so I’ll just keep it to myself.
- If I tell you who I am and use my voice I feel really vulnerable and therefore it’s more comfortable to keep it at a superficial level and not to open up too much.
- Maybe I don’t have anything important or worthy to share and that others are much more successful and insightful than I am.
- Perhaps I really don’t know who I am. Is the voice I’m using the voice of someone else, like my parents, siblings, friends or is truly my own voice? Who am I, and how can I share from my authentic self, if I don’t know who that self is?
We all have reasons why we’re uncomfortable opening up and sharing from the deepest part of ourselves. These reasons are often planted like seeds at a young age in our subconscious mind. For me, I was often told that children should be seen and not heard and that it was pretty clear that using my voice to open up and explore who I was, wasn’t really welcomed in my home. So I learned to keep my mouth shut and keep it inside. As I got older, I knew there were things in me that were meant to come out and share. It was like this energy that was getting all bottled up inside and if I didn’t let it out I would explode.
The problem with keeping our mouths shut and not sharing who we are, is that we are staying small and not sharing our gifts with others. At the other extreme, our true selves are slowly withering away and dying. We are meant to either grow or perish and that includes our authentic voice.
It seems ironic, but the stillness and quiet found in meditation is one of the most powerful tools for finding your voice and then using your voice. Through meditation, you become connected with who you are and what is important to you. Your identity becomes less defined by what you have and shifts to making choices based on your true nature. You are better able to hear that little voice in you that is there to guide you in a way that is consistent with your authentic self. When we listen to our thinking mind over our gut and the little voice, we are moving further away from our authentic selves.
It is not easy to use our voice to share who we are. I personally struggle with it every time I put myself out there, write a blog post, post on Facebook, conduct a workshop or share a heartfelt opinion. But I also know that we are all given a voice for a reason and we’re meant to use it to share who we really are with the world. When we do share who we are and use our voices, our authentic selves grow bigger and our light that is meant to shine becomes even brighter.
Do you consistently share who you are with the world? What holds you back? What moves you closer to opening up?