“No one ever made a difference by being like everyone else.” PT Barnum
Humans are inclined to want everyone to be the same. Why are we uncomfortable with people who are “out there” or who don’t fit into a box very easily? Why is it that those people are often the ones under criticism?
We think, “If they would just be less bossy. Less brash. Less weird. And for goodness sake, quit spouting their opinion about EVERYthing!” Right?
It seems that everyone has an opinion these days and many are not afraid to share theirs on social media. Some even get a bit angry when others don’t support them.
In real life, are you able to share your opinion without getting shot down? I’m not talking about your publicized opinions, because social media is a relatively “safe” place to state yours, hiding behind disconnected print.
I want you to consider your partnerships, relationships, and work places.
For me, during my marriage I heard things like, “Why do you even ask my opinion? You are going to do whatever you want anyway.” And I usually ended up “paying” for having an opinion different from my husband’s. Let me tell you, this led to feeling as if I was stupid, and didn’t amount to much in our marriage (come to find out I was very wrong about the first and quite right about the latter). It’s not a very good way to flourish. When we state our opinions—which results in others becoming angry—we have a tendency to stop expressing what we feel, especially if our nature is to avoid conflict.
To many of us, being able to even have an opinion is difficult. For me, because I was not allowed to discuss or argue with my parents (or teachers), I suppressed what I wanted. As an adult, if someone asked me how I felt about something, I would frantically fumble around inside my brain realizing that I couldn’t get in touch with how I felt. I truly didn’t know. “Going with the flow” kind of does that. Yielding my own voice, ideas, and feelings about things had become a deeply entrenched way of life.
Do we allow our children to have a different opinion than we do? I really try to ask mine to tell me their side of an issue. Of course, I’m still the parent, and must do what I feel is safe and profitable for my children. But if there is wiggle room, perhaps we need to allow our youngest members of society to state their case, and learn how to do so without it becoming a fighting match. Sometimes compromise is possible, and when a child (or anyone, really) feels like their voice is heard, it gives them confidence.
And dear one, you need to use your voice. You have every right to how you feel. You are worthy and capable, and the world needs your light. The world wants to experience your heart and what you are passionate about. You have a beautiful brain, so use it. If you don’t know how you feel, begin investigating facts. Read. Study. And form your own opinion about matters that matter.
In personal relationships, help the other person to understand how you feel by saying things like, “When you react with anger as I give you my opinion, it makes me feel as if I don’t matter and that you are trying to bully me into agreeing with you and submitting to your opinion at the cost of who I am.” Yes, that’s a mouthful, but it’s true, isn’t it?
In the work place, when your boss or another employee belittles your opinion on work issues, perhaps you can say (in addition to the above comment), “I’ve been hired here because I am capable. I have an interest in this job. My opinion matters as much as anyone else’s. I’d like for you to listen to what I have to say without becoming angry or acting like I am stupid.”
Wow, how empowering! Scary? You bet it is! Does it take practice? Yes. Stepping out of our comfort zone is always risky. But would you rather go through your life, remain in a relationship, or be stuck in a job where you feel belittled or stupid? Now I don’t want to give you false hope, because there are a lot of difficult people in our world, and you may be working with some or in relationships with some. Voicing your opinion may bring you physical danger or repercussions. You will need to be smart about it.
A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman.
But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.
Your voice really IS important, and being able to speak what you think and feel is empowering. Test it out and see if perhaps your words can make a difference in your life. Best case would be the other person doesn’t know that their words and actions make you feel inferior. And maybe there can be a compromise. We all need respect, but you must respect yourself first. So speak up!
Cheers to you! I am rooting for ya, and I want you to know that I believe you are smart, fabulous, and have a lot to offer our world!
Here are some great articles for you:
Raising Our Daughters to Speak Up and Why Women Should Reclaim Their Power