Your Voice Matters

Your voice mattersMy palms were sweating on my keyboard and my heart was beating fast. I was taking quick breaths and trying desperately to slow it down, while at the same time keep my words light, quick and snarky. I couldn’t believe that replying to an email could make me so anxious, but it did.

I read what I wrote. I re-read it. I changed the snarkiest line to make it lighter, then decided to be brave and changed it back. Then, before I could think any more about it, I clicked “send.”

You might think that I was signing my life away, telling someone off or serving someone with a lawsuit.

Nope, I was simply replying to a newsletter I subscribe to. I wasn’t even asking for anything. I just wanted to tell the author I thought she was incredible and how grateful I was for what she wrote.

It might sound funny, but the thought that I could matter to someone on the sending end of a fabulous newsletter was a foreign concept to me. I’m one of thousands, I thought. My mail would just be like junk. I would probably be adding to their already overfull inbox. I don’t want to be a burden.

If that’s not self-deprecating talk, I don’t know what is. Even as I re-read those words I think, fuck. Right?

A good friend and I were talking business one day and she casually mentioned how she often replies to the newsletters she likes from people I consider to be really big and famous. And I was like, You do that? While even more deeply, I was thinking, That’s a thing that I could do? It had never crossed my mind that it would be at all appropriate to hit the reply button and put a few words out there in response. (Not only did I not think it appropriate, I almost didn’t think it existed. Like, an email from a friend would have a reply button, but an email from a super successful entrepreneur? Mind blown).

The more we talked about this, the more I realized:

I have a problem asking for what I want in any situation in which I feel like asking would place an undue burden on the receiver.

And if you’re reading this, my guess is that you, too, may struggle with this.

Now, I’ve gotten better at this over the years. I’m good at asking my partner what I want (but it took several partners and a first marriage and divorce), I can ask my good friends for things, I can even approach someone with a big ask when I feel I have a benefit to offer them in return. But to just . . . ask? Ask someone I don’t know to pay attention to me? To give me a chance? To read my stuff? That scares the hell out of me.

And, from what I gather, this is very common for us highly sensitive people. We tend to be so giving, so serving of others, so accommodating to other’s needs that ours don’t even register. We get our toes stepped on and then we apologize. We have lots of big and perfectly reasonable feelings and beat ourselves up for “over-reacting.” We want to please. We don’t ever want to create conflict, and we sure as hell don’t want any criticism or rejection coming our way.

Asking is scary.

It’s also necessary for important life things.

Like creating and living in a conscious, loving relationship. For having friendships that don’t suck all your hard-earned energy out of you. For working your dream job. For designing your own career. For getting all of your needs met. You have to ask. You have to have a voice. 

Often times, we don’t have a voice because we are scared of what other people will say because at some point sometime someone yelled at us. Or told us we were stupid. Or chastised us for causing trouble or getting involved. But, as the yoga sutras teach us, when avoid situations that scare us out of fear of something that happened in the past, we make that fear stronger, not weaker. When we avoid facing our fears and moving forward, not only do we make that fear stronger, we miss out on opportunities.

What have you missed out on because you’ve been too afraid to ask? What relationships have crumbled because you just couldn’t share your feelings and your needs? Your voice matters. It matters in the world, it matters to me, and I sure hope it starts to matter to you.

You can start now. Click over to the contact page and tell me what you think – tell me anything that’s on your mind. It can be about me and my offerings, or your dog and how muddy she got at the park. Your words matter. Your story matters. Your voice matters.

Need some courage? Try this series.


8 Comments on “Your Voice Matters”

  1. Thanks, Jon – what a lovely comment to receive! I look forward to seeing you on my books someday soon (ish?). All the best of blessings on your journey. ~Anna

  2. Thanks for the very timely article Anna – and for being an amazing healing voice.
    Awhile ago I stumbled across an article by Mary Beard that changed my perspective on speaking out. Prior to that the thought of stating my opinion publicly induced a level of terror that seemed insane.
    In western literature, the earliest recorded time when a women is told to “shut up” is found in the epic poem, “The Odyssey.” The time was around 1200 BC when Greek heroes were returning home from the Trojan war.
    Telemarcus (the son of hero Odysseus and his wife Penolope) was in the process of transitioning from boyhood into manhood – as it was defined then. As proof of his progress, one day, when his mother entered the great hall and announced that the bard singing tragic war songs must switch to something happier, Telemarcus boldly intervenes. “Mother,” he says, “go back up into your quarters and take up your own work, the loom and the distaff…speech will be the business of men, all men, and of me most of all; for mine is the power of this household. And she goes back upstairs.
    That historical perspective helped change me. I decided then that it wasn’t as much what I said that mattered, or whether I was heard and understood, but that I spoke up at all. A woman publicly speaking out threatens deeply ingrained definitions of manhood that depend, for their survival, on her willingness to remain silent. For the sake of humanity and the planet, those definitions desperately need to be threatened. There is a sea change in progress that suggests an end to a very ancient and basic order. We may soon see that played out in the form of a highly symbolic, epic battle between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump – and in the increasings numbers of women refusing to remain publicly silent.
    Thanks again Anna

  3. Wow…Anna AND Holly!?!? My two favorite spiritual teachers!! It’s like I hit the spiritual teacher lottery by reading this today. 🙂

    This resonates with me as well. I recently realized how powerful I am and how I used to let men abuse, control, manipulate, or silence me so they could feel more powerful including two husbands and several long-term partners, and even some short-term dating partners. My powerful, intimate nature attracts men to me like a lightening bug attracts mates and prey, but now I either need to verbally swat the one’s I’m disinterested in away aggressively or they are scared away because I verbalize my feelings, needs, and desires. Although still frustrating, these seem like a significant improvement over being abused, controlled, manipulated, or silenced. So I see the evolution Holly mentions already occurring for me in my own lifetime.

    My two cents: famous people are “people” too – they have as much to learn from us as we from them. And, as you know, by deciding your ask is a burden to the receiver and then not making the request based on that assumption, the receiver is taken out of the equation and not given the choice to grant or deny the request or suggest a compromise. 🙂 But this shit is scary and in the past I’ve struggled with it too.


  4. I can so relate to this– thank you for taking the time and making the effort to express it and for the courage to admit it. I follow the Paleo Mom blog, and she happens to live in my town. When I saw her shopping at Whole Foods a few months ago, instead of walking up to her and telling her how her work has helped me and I really appreciate how she translates complex information into understandable and relatable ideas, I shrank away and said nothing (although I did tell the check out clerk of Sarah’s greatness).
    After recently being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, I stumbled across an piece on the importance of using your voice and expressing yourself to thyroid health. It immediately resonated with me, as my marriage was less than ideal for the first five years, and I often chose to not say anything in order to avoid conflict. As someone who is not a “talker”in general, many times speaking just seems to require more effort than not saying anything. But, I have to start somewhere, right, and I recognize the actual need (emotional, physical, physiological) to express myself.
    I have SIBO and your blog was the first I came across that explored the emotional aspects of it, which I really needed, as overcoming it can be an all-consuming endeavor. Thank you– I really benefit from reading what you have to say. Your voice does matter. ; )

  5. Wow. I don’t know how I just stumbled upon your blog tonight but I am blown away. I have never felt so understood as I do right now. I didn’t even know “HSP” was a thing / I just heard the term “empath” described for someone – is it the same thing? I feel what you described in this

    It’s funny what you said about only “20% of the population is an HSP and they can read body language and a room better”. I never understood why people couldn’t easily read people’s feelings – I thought it was something most people could do and not the other way around! I would get so frustrated with people when they couldn’t pick up on someone else’s nervousness or disdain or any other feeling. Now I get it!
    I am so excited to learn more!! Thank you Anna!!

    1. Glad you found us, Kristine! So glad I could help you make some “ah-ha’s!” about yourself! Love and Light, Anna

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