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Bob asked me the other day: “Mummy, where does your voice come from?”. Isn’t that a SUPER interesting question? (thank you Bob!).  He was intrigued: why does his Dad sound different to me, and me to him?  (p.s. his Dad is from Grimsby and I am not, which is one key factor at play here..) I do have a philosophical answer for you (we could perhaps noodle about one day over a glass of something), and, some more practical keys as to how I recently unlocked my own voice. 

Mark Nepo says “we, like the birds, are meant to fly and sing”, but how many of us do actually sing out loud and speak so that others can hear what we our heart has to say?   In what ways do I actually silence myself?

You might think spekaing publicly is easy for me (ha!), but, there is a VAST difference between saying what feels comfortable to say versus saying what I feel needs to be said from my heart (which may be uncomfortable for other people to hear).  And more and more often I do feel called to speak up, and yet, I find I’ve damned up my own Suez Canal of a voicebox through doubt and imagined damnation. And like the Suez Canal, not much can flow through this important channel when there’s a huge barge stuck in the way.

Speaking out loud to others can feel scary, right, or is it just me?  Especially on-line where you can’t even see everyone you’re speaking with.  But we’re not talking here about Lawyer Lauren who can pretty easily present to you on some new law or regulation, as that’s now in the land of the comfortable for me to share.  What I’m talking about here is starting to open up my lockdown cage and give public voice to the musings of my heart and soul. My very private stories, thoughts and feelings. The kind of thing I write to you about here.  Yet here I can write, percolate, walk away, leave it for a few days or weeks (or even longer), edit, edit, and edit some more (then a teeny-weeny bit more), close my eyes tightly and press send and walk away to get a cuppa.  Speaking feels very different.  It feels more live, immediate and riskier!  Once my words have flown UNEDITED right out of my mouth – POOF!- they’re OUT there…  But that also means they ARE out there!   My song is flying away to new distant lands and people in my very own cadence, key and tone. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that learning to speak publicly is a bit like learning to be your own film director: I already have the story and willingness to share it, now I get to add the colour, movement and soundtrack to the story I want to tell. Why wouldn’t I do that?

So, when global law firm Clifford Chance asked me to speak to them and their global client base about “how to bring your whole self to work” and my latest blog (The Unexpected Journey Back Home to Your Spark) during their International Women’s Day events I nervously, immediately, said yes.  Saying yes turned out to be the easy part.  Getting ready for it, was not (and p.s. I asked not to be told until afterwards, but 700 people signed up to the event with 300 lovely people joining us live! Quite the virtual sparky party!).

These are the Four keys which got me to show up and speak, because, boy did this feel like a wonderful, nerve wrecking, stretch!

Key 1: I was more motivated to speak up for those who need to hear what I have to say (than silenced by any possible critics!)

Yoda said: “Name must your fear before banish it you can”.  MY go to fear has always been the judgement of others, ultimately leading to me being fired and obviously left desolate.  There you go.  There is some flimsy evidence to support my brain’s colourful imaginings of doom which it uses to shut me up. Many years ago, a legal magazine wrote a piece on me.  I heard on the grapevine that someone had said “who does she think she is?  Doesn’t she know this is PRIVATE equity she works for”…  Isn’t our brain’s negativity bias a wonderful thing? (nope, no it’s not!)..

My brain had protectively given this ONE piece of historic heresy criticism (amongst a sea of otherwise positive feedback) the sole power to silence my voice now.  Whenever I would even think about publicly speaking about what I’m sharing with you over here at Truly Alive, I would clam up, feel the tight constriction around my throat, like someone was trying to strangle me, and see this person grinning away knowingly as I look for a new job. This fear feels SO viscerally real, but, it’s not.  This isn’t happening to me right now (who even knows if it EVER happened!), and even if it was, what’s the worst that can happen? (you’d hire me, right?).  It was time to stop tangoing with doubt. 

What helped me was to turn up the volume on 2 actual facts (and turn down the voice of the imagined critic) 1/ I had been ASKED to speak which means, 2/ SOMEONE wants to hear what I have to say.  So I started imagining the people who were giving up an hour of their valuable time to dial in to hear what I have to say.  I was choosing to speak for them, and not for my possible grinning critics.  This genuinely helped me to wash my hair and show up and not blame my dodgy internet connection to pull out of the conversation. 

Key 2. I had to learn to love and own my story

I have been living this way for years; and that’s taken courage.  I have been writing & sharing here for over 6 months; and that continues to take courage.  Now, saying my story out loud so others can hear it directly, live, from my voice: NEW COURAGE NEEDED my friends – where do I go find that?…. 

So I started saying my story.  Over, and over and over again to myself.  It was painful.  It was embarrassing.  But the thing is, until I became unembarrassed and clearly comfortable saying it aloud, it was uncomfortable to listen to, even to me.  Saying it out loud tested my love of my story (and of myself).  Each time I gave it a voice it revealed deeper layers of shame left to drop and choose to love instead.  This story has after all shaped me into the person writing to you today. Again I imagined the people who have signed up to hear me speak. Would they trust me and my message if I seemed unsure of who I am?   As, until I fully owned who I AM now, and the stories which made me, I hadn’t earnt the right to share them with others.

 Key 3. Stay true to my intention, and unattached from ANY outcome

Whilst perhaps honourable, my desire to help others by sharing my message wasn’t helping me!  Rather my well intentioned intention was creating a pressure cooker inside telling me I had to “do a great job”, “be amazing”, that “this really matters”.  Being SO attached to how it would be received for sure motivated me to practise, and it also made me swear, a lot!  (p.s. that’s a typo which should read “sweat” but I also sweared!).

I am NOT Brené Brown (as we’ve already established in some earlier posts).  This is not life or death and the world will keep spinning if I do choose to keep silent.  And, no matter how hard I try I cannot control how I am received by ANYONE else, other than myself.  This is only always true.

This decision to let go of how it WOULD go turned out to be really important.  It allowed me to focus on showing up and being fully there, rather than hanging out in worry playing defence to what people might think.  People will think what they think whether I spend time worrying about it or not.  Why not spend that time on preparing to be present instead.  So that’s what I did.

Key 4.Focus then relax – BOTH parts of this equation turned out to be equally important!

You might be getting the impression that I put quite a lot of work into getting ready for this event.  I did!  But I also realised that I couldn’t stay stuck in the practice zone.  That at some point I had to trust myself that “I’ve got this” and then relax.  As from that relaxed place when they said “we’re on” I could listen to the questions being asked and trust the words flying out of my mouth without having one eye on trying to filter them for “correctness” first.  Who knew relaxing is so important to flowing?  (Urgh, a lot of people like dear Bill Murray: “the more relaxed you are, the better you are at everything” see I don’t just quote Brené!).

And so it was I found a way to stop silencing myself, even in front of a a massive group of lawyers (who it turns out are ready to hear my story too!  yay!).

So I’ve a question for you:  what are you not saying that needs to be said?  What does someone need to hear from YOU today in only the way you can say it?  What’s stopping you?  In case helpful I have a secret 5th key, which is a reminder that: your phenomenal voice is unique, necessary and important.  There are people in the world waiting to hear what you have to say. Please have more faith in THIS truth, than the doubt damning up your voice.  The fear that rises up when we step up to speak is totally normal, even predictable, but keeping silent doesn’t have to be. You might just find more freedom and joy than you could ever expect on the other side of letting your voice take flight. 

I can’t wait to hear what you have to say, please reply to this post and let me know what it is!

Love,

Lauren  x

 

 

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