By Sahar Paz
I’ve always been obsessed with the how? Simplified solutions and inspirational quotes weren’t enough for me. They didn’t snap me out of my silence. They didn’t create true change in my confidence and self-worth. They didn’t offer me a solution I could put into work on a daily basis.
In my young life, I witnessed the fragility of a woman’s freedom. Watching everyone in my family — the women AND men — being negatively affected by the silencing of the women in their lives.
You see, I was born in Iran during the revolution. During a time that fear and anger morphed a forward-thinking society into one that silenced it’s women and jailed anyone who would speak against the new regime. Thanks to my Mom, I got to put that experience behind me at the age of eight when we escaped the bombs and oppression.
That’s when we moved to The Land Of The Free, and I got my first taste of liberation. Since then, I have made it my mission to never take for granted the choice I have to use my voice. This mission to make the most of my freedom has been a painstaking and rewarding journey; one that is narrated by a war-of-words within me, between the woman I know I am, and the “shushed girl” my inner-voice tells me I am supposed to be.
Just because you have an awareness of your responsibility to participate in your freedom, doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy. Through my teens, twenties, and even early thirties, I searched diligently for the how.
How can I speak up and be heard?
What is it exactly that is keeping me from saying something?
What am I going to do when I do speak up, and it causes an uncomfortable situation?
It is a process I have come to greatly respect — the finding of and using of my (your) voice. As I grew into the power of my own voice, I began coaching women individually, virtually, and in groups, to do the same. I have had conversations with thousands of ladies, from 12 to 70 years old. Our blocks, our patterns, our places of fear and insecurity that rob us of our voices, mirror each other time-and-time again.
Our cultural, religious, and lifestyle differences don’t matter; the sum of our fears are:
I Don’t Speak Up Because My Opinion Isn’t Valued.
Expressing My Opinion May Lead to Criticism, Ridicule or Retribution.
Why Bother? Nothing Happens When I Speak Up.
We have lost hope that our voice will count for anything.
The lack of practice of using our voices has made us choose to stay quiet too many times. Conversation about justice, growth, and boundaries, are not being started at home or within our communities, because we feel the hope for change is beyond reach. In many ways I thank the recent changes in our society that have stirred our attention as women. The whispers inside of us have grown, and we are ready to be heard.
To be heard, to make change, you have to use your voice. I don’t want you to yell or raise a fist. It is not a time to adopt anger and hate. This is the time to embody the innate qualities of the feminine to bring solutions to the table.
We need creative solutions to heal our mother earth. We need honest voices in our financial and political arenas. We need to teach our men to be compassionate with their emotions, so they don’t equate self-worth with anger and power. We need to use our voice to consciously raise our children to know how to cope in a world that is overly-connected to unhealthy messages.
All of the words above in bold are feminine qualities — these are capacities EVERY human being has. It’s a way of life that can be learned by simply watching someone living and speaking this way. That someone is you.
It’s that simple. The transformative power of a woman’s voice. You speak. You model behavior. Therefore you teach -every person who interacts with you. It is your superpower. Now, let’s teach YOU how to get out of your own way. Which brings me back to the how.
The first step to finding your voice, is listening for it, and by that I mean your inner voice. There is a constant chatter inside of you. It’s offering you a play-by-play of what is actually happening, simultaneously, pondering over things in life and the decisions you should make.
Please don’t attempt to tune into all of your thoughts. You have more than 70,000 in a day. Instead, I want you to think about:
Do you find yourself thinking: “I wish I would have said …”?
Do you feel unappreciated in your home, your relationships, or at work?
Do you find yourself unable to set boundaries, and devaluing your own worth / voice?
Do you find yourself telling little white lies more often than you would like?
Do you find yourself nodding your head yes and agreeing to things because it’s the easier thing to do?
If you can relate to any of the above scenarios the pattern of your inner-voice is holding you back. Put on your scientific glasses with me for a moment. Neuroscience identifies a particular part of the brain, sometimes called “the interpreter,” as the source of familiar internal narratives that gives us our sense of self.
The left cerebral hemisphere of humans is prone to fabricating verbal narratives to convince itself that it has full control. This is an inner-voice chatter that does not necessarily serve the current circumstance of the individual. Your brain is a muscle, and it has muscle memory — repetitive habits, a way of thinking, a way of existing, a perspective of your place in society, are ALL translated to you by your inner voice.
You inner-voice may have quite a personality! I know mine does, and that’s why I’ve named a few of her patterns. I want you to meet Psychic Phyllis and Assertive Amy (video above)- these two are a common way my inner-voice leads me to deal with life.
When my inner-narrative is guided by Psychic Phyllis, I am fortune-telling the end before I even try. Four years ago Psychic Phyllis was telling me:
Who do you think you are to write and publish a book?
No one is going to read that thing anyway….GOOD LUCK!!
I have found this voice in me. Now, when she takes control of my decisions, I hear her out, but I don’t value her opinion (Watch my video about Logical Leila and Black n’ White Betty below).
This is the power of learning how to listen to the patterns of your inner-voice. It is in this space your voice has a choice. You have a choice to stay silent. You have the freedom to make the choice to start important conversations. You have the capability to agree to disagree, and stand solid in your choice and voice.
To do this, you first need to grow your awareness of the patterns of your inner voice. Buy yourself a journal, or dedicate a notes page in your smartphone or tablet to record your streams of consciousness first thing in the morning and at the end of the day – for 14 days.
You are NOT making to-do lists, you are gathering an inventory of your thoughts. Begin to take notice of:
- The kinds of judgements you make about yourself.
- The ways you compromise yourself on a daily basis.
- What kinds of conversations you are having, and the kinds of conversations you want to be having.
Just listen. That’s a powerful step you can take right now. Then share. Tell your family and friends about the findings. These conversations will spur their reflection of you. This is always a good test for you to stay calm and solid in the woman you know you are. This is your opportunity to practice using your voice.
Sahar’s body of work is dedicated to filling the silence with a woman’s voice. Born amidst a fearful political regime, Sahar Paz, witnessed the transformative power of a human’s voice. She travels the nation as a keynote speaker urging women to speak up, to raise their hands, and to be heard. Sahar coach’s women to have assertive conversations that will greatly impact their lives, and our society. Her goal is to end the silent oppression of women in the free world.