Little girls are often taught to be nice, putting others’ needs before their own. As a result, we tend to hold back. Many times we are so busy making everyone else happy, we aren’t even aware of our own wants or needs.
The oldest girl of six children, my job was to care for my younger siblings. I loved to sing and sang aloud as I did my chores. One very impactful moment happened when our cousins came and we performed for the family. My mother stood beside me, firmly held my shoulder, and quietly said, “You just sing one verse.” That and other shameful moments stuck with me and became a foundation of how I operate in the world. “Hold back. Let others shine. Don’t be too much.” These incidents helped me create what researchers call an unconscious “program” that helped me survive in my family. I unconsciously decided to not have needs and to take care of others. Along with this came a feeling of, “Something must be wrong with me. I’m not enough; I’m not very lovable.”
What keeps you from finding your voice?
What holds you back from fully expressing your needs and wants? Like me, you may have subtly or not so subtly felt pressure to stay small, to support others at your own expense.
It’s time to find your voice, sing as many verses as you want and as loudly as you want! Many forms of self-help advise: “Just do it; stop playing small and step up!” While that can be somewhat helpful, it is not enough to make lasting change. The secret to stepping up and claiming your power lies in changing your unconscious program, the one that kept you safe, then.
Here is a process to create lasting change.
Like undertaking any new skill, we have to practice. Here’s a powerful process I have used for decades in helping myself and others find their voice. First, see if you can get a sense of what it would be like, what it would feel like to know what you need and to express yourself fully. Checking inside, I feel expanded in my heart and a smile emerges. Now, see if you can find the little girl inside you who learned to hold herself back. You might write in your journal about your early experiences and how this strategy was helpful then. As you gain clarity, allow yourself as the Wise Woman to go to your Little One and let her know the truth. Tell her something like, “Thank you for doing such a good job. You are safe now, precious and lovable. It’s okay to shine.”
Make this a daily practice. Ask yourself questions like: What do I want/ need? What am I being called to do? What is my contribution to make? Write, sing, dance, make waves. Find your voice. Know that you are here on the planet to be all that you can be. We all need you now!
This article was written by Marti Glenn, Ph.D., Ryzio Clinical Director