Remember women like your sassy older aunts, the seemingly frail church ladies, or the nosey “neighbor lady” who was always ready to tattle on you? You know, the ones who would blurt out the darndest things, anytime… anywhere – and get away with it? It often seems that being an “old lady” has it privileges, at least when it comes to speaking your mind without apology and with little to no regard for anyone else’s feelings.
As women, many of us live the majority of our lives not getting what we want, simply because we don’t ask for it. We’re so afraid of offending someone, not being liked, or being perceived as overly aggressive, that our true feelings get suppressed and many of our needs go unmet. Somewhere around 40ish we find that buried voice and start making up for lost time. The question is, is that new outspokenness serving our communication or sabotaging it?
I’ve met some wonderful women who, after discovering the voice of their true selves, have become “deliciously” outspoken in midlife. I’ve also encountered women who are completely fed up from having stifled their wants, needs and desires for far too long. Alas, after a lifetime of being invisible, she has found her voice and she’s not afraid to use it. But it’s not quite that simple. While finding our voice can be one of the best things we ever do, the inability to use that voice effectively can damage relationships with our families, close friends and significant others. It can even be damaging to our health.
Speaking up doesn’t mean being tactless, obnoxious or aggressive. Get your needs met? Absolutely! But never at someone else’s expense. Communication must be fair to be effective and every time we open our mouth, we must take personal responsibility for the things we say.
Here’s a few tips to help you get the most out of your new found voice:
They’re not psychic.. they’re family! People, no matter how much they love us, can not read our minds. It’s our responsibility to let others know what we want and how we feel.
Passive is not pretty. If something isn’t the way you want it to be or if you’re being treated in a way that’s not acceptable for you, make the choice to deal with it. If you choose not to deal with it you forfeit your right to sit around brooding about it. And please, don’t be a “yes” woman, you’ll grow to resent it.
Be open and honest. There’s nothing wrong with wanting someone to do something for us. But using hurt or anger to get your way is a foul play. Hurt and anger are both aggressive communication tactics. When you guilt someone into getting your way, you are using hurt. When you intimidate someone into getting your way, you are using anger. You may gain some short term benefits, but in the long run it’s you who’ll be the biggest loser
“Payback is a b$#ch!” as the saying goes, but payback is something best left out of your dealings with people. Revenge will age you quickly and take more of a toll on you than the one you’re aiming for. Trying to pay someone back or teach someone a lesson by gossiping, sabotaging, withdrawing attention or affection such as touching, talking, or even sex is no way to get our needs met. Payback sneaks in with the promise of making you feel good but in the end, will leave you wrinkled, lifeless, broke (in spirit) and alone.
Within your voice lies the ultimate creation tool – the power of life and death. If you don’t use your voice you’re not really living. But use it with compassion and you’ll live a life well lived. Live out loud ladies! Live out loud!