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Tuning in to your voice in a world of noise

I lost my voice. Completely. A couple a weeks ago, I lost my voice for eight days.

At first, I was angry. I had to cancel all my meetings, I could no longer discuss complicated ideas and issues with anyone. I was alone with myself and had to find the answers within.

I thought I would go crazy – I like talking and nothing brings me greater joy than singing in the shower. Was life going to be in black and white until I got my voice back?

I decided to use this as an opportunity to work on my self-confidence. I tend to ask for opinions far more than I need, and one of my resolutions for 2017 was to be more confident in my own judgment. If I wasn’t going to be able to speak to others, then I’d need to talk to me.

Luckily, I’ve been an avid journaler for years now. It started when I was a teenager, as an opportunity to vent my dissatisfaction with the lot I’d been granted in life. Later, it became a place to reflect on my romantic relationship and base decisions on facts and not just interpretation (you tend to forget important details when you don’t really want a relationship to end!)

But I only discovered the power of journaling later, when I decide to become a freelancer. My greatest worry at the time, was not having the structure of an office. Wouldn’t I get lonely, restless and depressed? I felt I wouldn’t know what to do with myself, let alone how to look after myself.

But then, I came across Julia Cameron’s book, “The Artist’s Way”. I was introduced to the practise of journaling first thing in the morning. This system helped me to structure my thoughts, to reflect on events and learn from them. Journaling became a place for me to kick off the day with clarity and focus.

Without realising, I started to become an encouraging manager and friend to myself, I started to feel more confident in my ideas. Like many women, I tended to shy away from expressing my opinions. I didn’t want to embarrass myself by suggesting changes to a colleague’s strategy in the middle of a meeting when a whole room had just validated it. I wouldn’t have wanted to come across as a contrarian or run the risk of being wrong.

With journaling, though, there is no risk. You can be wrong all you want. It’s a place to explore, to question the status quo, a place to disagree with what everyone else says, to try and come up with alternatives. It’s the place where you can form your opinion, and keep re-evaluating it. It’s a safe place to be yourself authentically – to express your voice, something, which sadly, is discouraged in our societies.

I’ve recently witnessed, with great concern, the extent to which it has become acceptable for mobs of radical people to silence the voices they disagree with. From artists being bullied into cancelling events by angry mobs, which misinterpret a fragment of a work to feed their spite, to “feminists” harassing a woman for praising her husband on International Women’s Day.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” 

Steve Jobs

We may worry about the state of international geopolitics, but let’s start from the beginning – the right to speak at our own level, the right to express one’s opinion and to engage in a dialogue. Each one of us can have a strong impact, by starting with the people around us, and asking them why they feel we shouldn’t be saying certain things, and by explaining to them the importance of debate. By warning them that shutting down the opportunity for debate is the first step to losing our voice.

“Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice.” Steve Jobs Tweet This

I now have my voice back. It’s still hesitant. I’ve covered sheets and sheets of paper with handwriting and feel more than ever, blessed to have the ability to speak, to express my opinions, to have conversations and learn about alternative points of view.

I have also become determined to stand up for my freedom of expression and I continue to thank journaling for helping me articulate and understand my values – even when I have no voice to speak.

I’d love to hear from you! Please use the comments section below to share your thoughts or email me at charlotte(at)astoryworthliving.com

  • Do you keep a journal? If so, what purpose does it have in your life?
  • Do you ever lack confidence in your judgment? How do you deal with this?

If you’ve enjoyed this article and know someone who could benefit from reading it, please share it with them.

Thank you for reading!

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