Reclaiming your Voice after it’s been shut down

To have the beautiful relationship that you want and deserve, there has to be good communication. But if you’ve been taught to shut down your voice or express yourself from your wounded inner child then you’ll find getting what you want to be difficult. Without good communication, relationships break down and then fall apart. Reclaiming your voice after it’s been shut down is the foundation of recreating your new relationship.

Here’s where some of my clients would say, “this is so hard to do”. Like everything in transformation, it starts out “hard” because it’s new and you don’t see the benefits yet. But if you stay with me, you’ll see the hard part quickly turn to this is “so much easier than I thought”.

Communication is foundational. It’s the first thing we have to do when we come into this life. We have to learn how to ask for what we need. We start with sounds and crying and demanding. Then when we learn to use our voice and words, our requests become easier.

But what happens when we are in a relationship and communication breaks down?


We go backwards

When we aren’t getting our needs met in a relationship, there is this thing that happens to all of us. We go backwards in time to that event when our needs weren’t being met. That’s the place of our wounded inner child. And before you know it you’re yelling and crying just like a child or you use passive aggression or manipulation like your adolescent (depends on when your trauma happened).

That event is our test to hold all other rejections up to.  Was it 2, 5, 16 years old when it happened? Most of us don’t have any idea because it’s stuck deep in our Amygdala.

And we can’t ignore that we as women have had our voices shut down from the beginning of time.


When not to speak

I remember being the only female in a marketing meeting years ago. Picture “Mad Men” in the 2000’s. A room full of men, me doing the Vanna White impression.  When it came down to discussing the presentation, the client for some unknown reason (my presence perhaps) felt that as a way of male bonding, he would denigrate the female voice by saying how he much preferred the male voice to the high pitch of the female voice. There was some comment about not being able to hear it. Yes, this did happen.

Did I let them know how I felt? Not an appropriate time. But I did make note of how I was triggered. Where it landed in my body and how sad I was for this ignorant man and the sheep of men following his lead. Ugh.



Communication from our Amygdala

The part of the brain that receives information first is known as the primitive brain or really the Amygdala…this is where we store our emotional events throughout our lives. It is here where we decide, does this match our traumatic memory or a happy memory. Is it safe or should we be afraid? Do we lash out or do we run?

From the Amygdala, the information travels to the Prefrontal Cortex where we make sense of it and then decide what action to take. This is our rational brain that decides our goals, lists, to dos etc. But the travel time sometimes impedes the rational brain from kicking in. Then we get stuck in fear and lashing out.

This is where we end up communicating from our wounding rather than from our open-hearted accepting place.

So, from my calm rational frontal cortex, I was saddened for the client and the women in his life.


Speaking from our wounding

Our whole physiology changes when we feel we’ve been disrespected or shamed. Then this changes how we respond, the words we choose, our voice and how we deliver our message.

We can literally change into a wounded child in seconds. Yelling and screaming and perhaps throwing things can become your way of responding. You may tense up for a battle, your teeth clench and your jaw, neck and shoulders brace for impact. This form of communication is destructive and will ensure the break down in your relationship that you fear.

There are more subtle versions of this. Like when you’ve been in an argument, you think you’re rational but you hear yourself delivering your request in an uncharacteristically high toned voice. You use words that are reminiscent of a small child. Again, your wounded inner child.

You might have experienced this with colleagues as well. Want to ask for a raise or more recognition in a meeting? Use your wounded inner child voice and watch your request fall on deaf ears.

There is a different way to shift out of this form of communication. You can reclaim your voice after it’s been shut down.


Speak from your grounded adult

Get grounded before you have any difficult conversation.  You know how good it feels to hear a low vibration, strong, calm voice. It’s soothing and trusting.

Think of your favourite news anchors.  Why do you think men like Walter Chronkite were so popular?And now think Christiane Amanpour and Diane Sawyer. And remember Gloria Steinem?All smooth, calm, clear in their speaking.

So how do you gain this kind of power when you are communicating your needs in your relationships?

There are 5 things you can do today before you ask for that raise or want your partner to take you out to dinner.

Reclaim Your Voice

1. GET GROUNDED– Yes, this is where everything starts. Take a few deep breaths, go for a walk in the park. Do whatever quick grounding technique you use to keep yourself centred.

2.LOOSEN UP – When we’ve been stressed, our jaw tightens up. You might even find that you grind your teeth at night and may need a guard. But if you gently massage the sided of your cheeks by the edge of your jaw every morning, you’ll be able to enunciate your words better.

3. SING A SONG – This is the one thing you can do that will also help get you grounded and loosen your jaw. And it gets your vocal cords ready for speaking in different tones. One of the things to ensure we aren’t heard is that we are monotone when we speak. By singing in different tones we get used to speaking with more notes.

4. PUMP UP THE VOLUME – We have become so used to the idea that women are quiet and not demanding. But having a strong clear loud voice doesn’t mean you are yelling. Especially when you include different tones. Then your voice is like a song, pleasant and engaging.

5. ASCEND YOUR ENDING – We also have been taught incorrectly to descend in tone when at a comma or period in a sentence. All this does is make you sound depressed or “down”. Increase the tone at the end of the sentence and keep your audience engaged.

When you embrace these practices every day with a clear emotion, you will see success with your requests in all aspects of your life.

There have been many studies as to why women don’t get the same pay or leadership positions as men do. The main reason is that we don’t speak up for ourselves. Men peacock and we demure for the betterment of the group. And our voices get small. So, let’s reclaim our voices after a lifetime of being shut down!



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