Family rules whether spoke or unspoken can create dysfunction in childhood that leads to our adulthood. One family rule that I am familiar with both personally and professionally is that children should be seen and not heard. In other words what children have to say don’t matter because they are not adults. This family rule creates an adult who has difficulty honoring their voice.
There are other family rules that dishonor that child’s right to speak such as being told to shut up when you are speaking, being met with irritability or disgust when you are speaking, being told that what you say is a lie, or that you should keep things a secret. Each of these family rules leads with the message of what you have to say is not important. The family rule is a rule because it once was a rule of the adult when they were a child and they are faced with keeping it going to keep unhealthy homeostasis in their life.
I struggle, yes present tense because I currently still struggle, with being heard. I over think what I want to say or how it will make someone feel if I say what it is I truly want to say. I often get quiet and retreat to keep from saying anything at all. Then there are times I may have a whole conversation in my head and begin to feel irritated and frustrated. The irritation and frustration is often projected onto other people instead of communicated to the person I want to communicate to or handles within self. What I was taught as a child I also do to myself. I take away my own voice. Doing my own work has taught me that I do have a voice and I do need to honor her even when it seems tough.
So how does one honor their voice when it was taking away as a child?
There are different ways one can learn to honor their voice. You can go to therapy and work with your therapist to uncover the rules that were in the home that dishonored your voice. You and your therapist will look at the rules and explore hidden messages you have made up about yourself and your voice based on the rules. In this work the therapist will work with you to help you reclaim your voice and then use it.
How do I use it once I’ve reclaim it?
Well there are different ways to reclaim your voice. One way is through challenging yourself to speak up. Even thought I may have to play my words over in my head I then challenge myself to say it in a way that is empowering and not passive. I give honor to my voice and tell her that she is worthy to be heard (affirmation). I listen to what I am needing emotionally and provide that for myself. I go into reparenting the wounded child that was told she can’t speak and teach her that she can speak. (You can learn about reparenting in the Healing the Child Within Healing Program)
Other ways to honor or reclaim your voice includes but not limited to:
Writing in a journal. Journal writing has a way to give written words to your thoughts. There may be times that you have the thoughts in your head swimming around however they need space to be seen and heard. Journal writing provides that space. You can then look at those words and then give voice to the words that needs to verbalized.
Singing. Singing is a great way to express yourself. You may not sing your thoughts to the person you want to communicate to however you may have that favorite song that you can relate to and sing out loud in the shower, in your car, or all over your home unapologetically.
I statements: I statements are great for verbalizing what you are needing, feeling, experiencing, and beliefs. I statements keeps it about you and not about the person. I statements are used often to help increase empowerment and assertion of those beliefs, values, feelings, needs, and experiences.
There are so many ways to reclaim your voice that I honestly couldn’t put them all here. Reclaiming your voice will include acknowledging the rule that took it and doing what you have always wanted to do if your voice was not taken.
So just for today…
Honor your voice.
Honor the words you hear in your head but afraid to release the from your lips.
Honor that little girl you was told to be seen and not heard.
Honor her and let her be heard. Reclaim the right to your voice.