By Nitika Chopra
Don’t raise your voice.
Don’t say things like that.
Don’t laugh so loud.
That’s not polite.
As a kid, these are the things I was told regularly. You see, my thoughts have always sat on the tip of my tongue, ready to blast off into the ears of the people around me. Yet, I quickly learned that this was a bad thing. My mouth seemed to get me in trouble… a lot.
So after a while, I quieted down a bit. I dimmed my light. I stood inside the lines. But underneath the surface, I often felt like I was about to burst. The truth is, I’m a talker. It’s how I express myself. And I’ve learned it is an essential part of me. So I’ve spent most of my adult life reconnecting with that truth, and slowly shedding the restrictions that were imposed on me.
As women, we hold back, not saying what we feel, not asking for what we want, or not allowing ourselves to be truly seen and heard. Being vulnerable, putting yourself out there, and opening up to the possibility of rejection and hurt — it’s scary!
But your voice is your power. And it’s essential that you fiercely own it.
Here are five ways to begin reconnecting with this crucial form of self-expression.
1. Release Your Fears.
What’s the worst that could happen if you confronted your co-worker, stood up to your brother, or asked for a raise? Write down all of the worst case scenarios that are keeping you quiet, so that you can finally see that those things really aren’t the end of the world. If you approach each of those situations with love and authenticity, the response on the other end won’t be as bad as you think.
2. Practice Speaking Up.
I know, this may sound a little scary. But you’ve got to start somewhere! Do small things once a day that flex this muscle. Ask for what you really want from your significant other. Share your opinion at a team meeting. Say no to something you really don’t want to do! Expanding your vulnerability attracts and expands more abundance into your life (more on that in Tip #5). Trust me.
This is a toughie, but it only comes with practice. The more you speak up, ask for what you want, and share your point of view, the easier it will get. And before you know it, you won’t even give it a second thought the next time you’re in a similar situation. It becomes natural.
4. Put Yourself in Front of an Audience.
Even if you're not a public speaker, organize a small gathering or event with friends, family, or co-workers. Whether it’s a book club or a potluck, give yourself the opportunity to say a few words expressing how happy you are to bring everyone together. When I first started my business, I wanted to host events, but I didn't know how. So I just started inviting friends over to make vision boards and have an open discussion.
5. Stretch Your Capacity to be Vulnerable.
Yes, I’m asking you to practice vulnerability. It may sound counterintuitive because we’re taught this kind of self-expression makes us seem weak. Oh contraire! Being vulnerable is courageous. It’s a sign of strength. And the more you share who you really are and what you really want, the more you invite others to participate in this intimate way of connecting. It’s a beautiful thing.
I know without a doubt that harnessing your voice is the key to personal growth. Expressing your truth is your birthright, and it will liberate you from the confines of playing small — if you allow it.
So the next time you walk into a big meeting, are about to ask that handsome guy next to you in line out on a date, or even pitch yourself for your dream job, remember these 5 rules and embrace truly owning your voice.
Nitika Chopra is a certified life coach, wellness entrepreneur, go-to resource for young women around the globe, and a motivational lifestyle guru. Nitika is on a mission to inspire radical self-love. She is also the host of the talk show Naturally Beautiful on Z Living, which focuses on a holistic approach to beauty from the inside out. Nitika is a passionate, colorful, and inspirational voice supporting people in their journey to access more self-love by creating a lifestyle reflective of it.