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Using Your Voice

Ep #58

Using Your Voice

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to have a voice, to advocate for yourself and others. Through parenting and teaching my kids how to advocate for themselves, I learned all the ways doing so has benefited them. 

So why do so many of us, grown adults, struggle to communicate our needs? 

Listen, Renegades. You are not the people society raised to play it safe. We have voices; we have needs. This doesn’t make us bossy, demanding, needy, or aggressive. It makes us human.

In today’s episode, I reveal why it’s so hard to advocate for yourself in most situations, but especially in relationships. Pretending you don’t care when you desperately do does not get you what you want. I’m sharing what does help you get what you want and need, and how it starts with using your voice.

What You Will Discover:

  • How I’ve learned to advocate for myself.
  • What happens when you don’t communicate your needs.
  • A fear-setting exercise to help you overcome the discomfort of using your voice.

Resources Mentioned:

  • If you’re enjoying the tools and concepts I’m sharing each week about your brain on dating, you won’t want to miss out on working with me one-on-one. I’ve just launched my program, Wake Up Before Another Breakup, where in just 8 weeks, you wont question if you can trust yourself to date or why you cant find the one. Click here to learn more about it and how you can work with me.

Enjoy the Show?

Renegades,

How are you today? Miss me? I apologize for making you wait a few extra days for this episode. I’ve been deep in my life’s work of living an erotic life and doing a ton of research so I can teach you the same and well, I got a little behind. Just know, the work is all for you.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about what it means to have a voice. To advocate for yourself- and others. To communicate on your behalf.

Advocate was a word, and I’m not making this up, I became conscious to in 2014. I’m sure I’d heard it over the years, but it never registered, nor did I give it any meaning. My kids were attending a school that, during a sit down meeting their teachers told me they were teaching my kids to advocate for themselves.
I was like wait, what? What does that mean? You want them to speak up if they don’t agree with you? Are you crazy? Is that a thing? I’m confused. Won’t they get in trouble? I drove home thinking, I want that. I want to advocate for myself… ahhhh, self-advocate. Oh my gawd, I get it now! Why didn’t I think of that?
This was a big aha moment not only for me personally, but as a parent. I realized how uncomfortable it had been for me as an adult to communicate on behalf of myself and how the lack of this skill set had gotten me into some even more uncomfortable situations in dating, friendships, marriages, business etc. etc. etc.
I definitely didn’t want my kids to go through life thinking or feeling that way. It actually terrified me to put them in my shoes at times.
It was settled; I would not only start using this muscle known as my voice, I would give my kids the same opportunity. We as a family would begin to self-advocate.
Over the last 7 years I’ve aimed to give my kids room to grow, learn, make their own mistakes and I have had to give myself even more room to sit back watch and experience the emotion that comes with it.
I’ve had to give myself even more room to be compassionate and forgiving of myself as I learned my new way parenting… I was guilty of referring to a catalog of responses I learned from my parents… for example, if my kids thought to respond to me when I was lecturing them, I might interpret that as they were disrespecting me. My former parent script of go-to lines like, “you can’t talk to me like that, I’m your mom! This is my house…” would come out of my mouth and even I would have these weird out of body experiences like, who are you? You sound like one of them…
Never a perfect practice but always in practice.
We had many dinners with company where I’ve thought, my Gawd, what have I fucking done? There were times where I did think it was too much and I would have to call it. Okay! Subject change. Let’s give someone else a chance to speak… or hey, now you’re just being rude. You can have opinions and not go for the jugular.

Is it always easy? No. My life would be so much easier if I said, hey I need you to sign up for community college here and it was yes mom. of course, you always know best instead of, I'm looking at doing this- a paid internship in Canada for 6 weeks followed by a short-term sublease on campus and probably starting at the end of summer if I don't decide to move to CO and postpone college until I figure things out.
Oh, I'm sorry? Figure things out? Let me make this easy for you...
But I’m committed. At the beginning of 2020 I went so far as to tell my kids to start questioning everything I ever taught them- and the adults around them as well. Don’t just assume that because someone is older that they know more or what’s best for you. You need to weigh it all out. You have a good foundation- you know right from wrong- now question everything. Politics. Civil Justice. Human Rights. If you have questions, ask them. Learn to form your own beliefs and speak up for them. Be flexible with them. Stay open. Learn to play in the grey.
As I’ve watched my kids shaped their own opinions and ideas over the years, I have found myself - and others presenting to them a situation to get their perspective. They are able to communicate in a way that I’m proud of. That I admire. I even aspire to.
What has grown out of this experience of me letting my kids advocate for themselves is true intimacy, trust and independence.
Let me explain. When someone gets to share how they are feeling, without being told they can’t or it's wrong they can feel safe with that person. They develop trust. And more than not, I have found that when it comes to the big questions and problems, they come to the trusted source to get insight, advice and input. Sometimes they just need a sounding board which is a skill you develop when you let the people around you communicate. You also develop a beautiful skill of feeling uncomfortable listening to them struggle with what’s in front of them and not trying to fix it. Not make it about you.
Admittedly, even after years of practicing using my voice, I still struggle to advocate for myself in any situation where I feel I might be hurting someone, or it would appear disrespectful or require me to summon any amount of courage to do. It’s really fucking uncomfortable.
Logically it sounds like the obvious approach to be open with and share with others what we are thinking and feeling, but we are not taught as a society to act in this way. If anything we are taught to be nice - if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it. The classic ‘respect your elders’ and don’t say that or you’ll hurt their feelings.
However, I have found in my experience that it is far more painful not advocating for yourself and communicating on your behalf than it is to say what it is you are needing to say.
How many of you struggle with indecision, feeling stuck and confused rather than using your voice and asking for what you want in your relationships? At work? In the bedroom?

I was talking to a client recently and she was sharing with me that she saw a text on the man’s phone of whom she is dating that said, “I’ll see you tonight.” and rather than asking him about it, she leaves a note saying work came up and then got the hell out of there. Never mentioning the aforementioned text.
Instead, she went home with an empty sick feeling in her stomach letting and her brain spinning stories of what it meant? Who she might have been. Was it work-related? Was it more? How did they meet? Are there others?
He calls later but she sends it to voicemail and texts him that she can’t talk, busy with clients.

With barely any sleep that night she rolls out of bed and finds a text from him. Good Morning, want to get breakfast? What about lunch?
She makes up more lies and continue to dodge his calls and avoids meeting with him. A little more time goes by and he shows up. She said she felt guarded when she saw him but acted like everything was fine. You’re great. Busy week. You know how it is.
He asks if he can help. No, you say. I can handle it.

Later in the week you acquiesce to his dinner invite and carry on never addressing the text. Never asking questions. And from that moment on, never allowing that person to get close to you. The guard has gone up. The trust, you think, has been broken. You feel broken and slightly devastated while you raise the walls around you a little higher.

Rather than feeling like you have permission to ask about a text you pretend you don’t care. You tell yourself it’s not your place or panic all together, and play it cool by lying to them and yourself.

But you do care. You desperately care. And even though you keep showing up in this relationship acting like it’s fine you continue to collect more evidence as to why you can’t trust them. You find yourself checking their social media. Glancing at their phone when it pings.
Perhaps you start pressing for information on the relationship.

You want to end it altogether and go but you can’t seem to do it. You are confused. You feel like he is so loving and supportive. He would do anything for you. Maybe it’s fine. Maybe we are seeing other people. We are open. It’s unorthodox. It sounds a bit romantic and edgy the more you think about it. Why should we label it?

If only you believed that, right? The constant rhetoric in your mind is ‘what are we? What are we doing? Is he seeing other people? Can I see other people? Maybe I should. Should I tell him? How the hell do I work with this?
Maybe he’s not what I want after all. It’s too confusing. What I need are rules and boundaries. I need to place perimeters.

But instead of advocating for yourself, asking about the text, communicating your boundaries, you avoid the conversation altogether and spin out on the rhetoric.

Renegades, this thought loop is the result of being afraid to use our voice. Maybe you don’t have experience with it. Growing up you may have learned that girls aren’t supposed to say what they want. Maybe you lived in a home that taught you that you had no say regardless of your sex. Maybe one time you raised your hand and gave your teacher the wrong answer in front of the class, felt total humiliation and made a vow of silence from that moment forward.
But not learning how to advocate for yourself, your needs will create a world of misery for you.

Why do we feel like we can’t ask about a text? Or if our partners are sleeping with other people?

I was talking with a client recently about dating and reaching out to women on bumble and he told me - I’m not a great conversation starter. I was floored by his response. I think I felt offended, like he was lying to me a little, because I’ve watched this man in action with business calls, friends and strangers alike and he’s one of those guys that will start a conversation with anyone! Anyone! I was like, what the fuck are you talking about? I pointed those things out and said, how is reaching out to the ladies on bumble different than making cold calls for business. He said, it just is. I said, you know what? You’re right! There is a difference. Do you know what it is? He said, tell me.
I said, it’s your thinking. You think if you reach out and she’s not interested that you are being rejected. When you make a cold call for business you think it’s a numbers game. It’s all math and no drama.
And because of this fearful driven thought about being rejected, you don’t communicate at all. You don’t reach out; you don’t meet anyone and you don’t get closer to finding your one.

I want you to think about all the feelings that come up when you deny communicating on your behalf. I imagine a variety from distrust, doubt, rejection, fear, anxiety, sadness, anger, jealously, resentment, self-doubt, insecure… an endless list of uncomfortable emotions all so you could avoid feeling the ones that would come with the asking ‘hey, what’s this text about?’

Forgive me for speaking in gender norms, but when I ask my female clients what do you think you will feel if you use your voice, more than not, I hear her tell me that she will feel foolish. If she lets him in, he will see her weak side. How fragile she is. And that she doesn’t actually know how to. She doesn’t know how to speak up for herself with her romantic partners.

And I know they have a voice because my clients are high performing women. They run businesses, manage families and employees. They do not play. But when it comes to their romantic relationships, they play small.

When I ask my male clients what’s holding them back from advocating for themselves, they say don’t feel important, or they are really frustrated because they don’t know what to do.

Want to know what I hear? A whole lot of judgment of yourself on how you feel what it means to have a voice and advocate for yourself.

Ask yourself: How am I being foolish when I communicate my needs with my partner but not with my employees? What is the difference? Is it true that I’m not important enough to talk to my partner about what I’m thinking? Could I prove that in the court of law? Is it possible that I can be frustrated, not know what to do and still speak my truth?

Renegades, you are not the people society raised to play it safe. We aren’t.
We have voices. We have needs. This doesn’t make you bossy, needy, bitchy or demanding or aggressive. It makes you human. It’s your human right. Start practicing now. Put it on paper. Share with a friend. Why are you afraid of asking? What are you thinking is going to happen?

Here’s my advice. Fear setting. Like goal setting, but the opposite. I want you to play your fears all the way out. Ask yourself What if I and fill in the blank: What if I ask him about the text I saw on his phone and it turns out he is having a date with someone else we break up and I’m alone forever. How could I prevent myself from breaking up or ending up alone forever? I could create boundaries around our relationship starting now. I could choose to end it and meet new people. We could decide we are in an open relationship. How can I be okay if it ends? I could go to therapy or coaching. Talk to someone to help me process and move on. Is this the first time this has ever happened? What have other people I know and admire done in my situation?

What are the benefits of me trying to have this conversation? What might I learn? How will I grow?
What will it cost me emotionally if I don’t ask? How might my life end up better by having this conversation?

Go on Renegades. Inquire. Seek. Reveal.

Until next week. Stay sexy.

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