It might come as a surprise to you (all like, seven of you who read my blog) but sometimes I lose my words.
I falter, stammer, and clam right up.
I know, I know. I write down my feelings on the daily. I talk my husband’s ear off. Anyone’s for that matter. But I do. I lose my words.
Perspective: I’m a Cancer. So if you’ll humour me, imagine me retreating into my safe little shell where it’s quiet, warm, and safe. I’m a crab.
It happens when I don’t know how to respond to someone for example if I perceive them to be acting rude or strange. Like this time someone at work wanted to lend me some clothing. I froze right up and one thing led to another and the next thing I knew I found myself in the women’s washroom modeling a dress. Where were my words then?
It also happened at the hairdresser the other day when I took my kid for a cut. I walked in with a definitive idea of what we wanted. I told her, #2 on the sides and longer up top. She looked at me like she was listening and then replied with what she wanted to do. AND THEN SHE DID WHAT SHE WANTED.
Words? Hello? Are you there? SAVE ME.
But here’s the thing: this is an act of mastery. Mastery being something you will never achieve but instead you will in time continue to improve at. There is no end point to your knowledge; no cap. Golf. Art. Music. These are all acts of mastery. And for me: communicating is.
Because it’s about mastery, I choose to treat myself with compassion. Sure, I felt like a dingbat standing there in my work socks and a dress that was not mine in the women’s washroom; and yes, my kid ended up looking like an army brat because of it, but it’s O.K.
Carefully decide whether it matters or not.
I had to consider whether these things would matter to me in a week, month, or year after they happened. Losing my voice was disappointing but the outcomes weren’t that big of a deal and they definitely did not matter a week later. Better yet, today when I think about the way the dress clung to my full-bummed underwear that day, I laugh. I felt like a doofus and looked like one, too.
If it matters, think deeply about why.
If the outcome of you losing your voice will matter next week, next month, or next year then it’s a defining moment. These are times when it will mean something to you to speak up. These moments aren’t always moments that define a situation or a relationship. They are moments that define you.
When it’s time to show up because something is on the line I get a bit freaked out. I go back and forth between wanting to speak and then being fearful of the consequences. What if I’m wrong? What if I’m not, am I willing to fight about this?
I had the chance the other day, I had a defining moment, and I’ll tell you now: it was a hard decision to speak up.
My feelings had been hurt and for me, it was about respect, which is a value of mine. It involved family, too, making it uber complicated. And to make matters worse, this person is already going through stuff, like heavy-duty stuff. Do I dare bring my stuff up, too?
But I did because it mattered to me. The relationship mattered. It mattered to call attention to my feelings.
Before I spoke up I answered these two questions:
- What is really bothering you about this situation? What’s at the heart of it.
- How do you feel and why do you think you might feel this way?
It helps to get clear on what’s going on with you, before you go and jump into a potential conflict with someone else.
Script yourself before you wreck yourself.
This is not an instant fix to find your words. In tough situations our words escape us. Or worst, the wrong words escape.
Plan out what you plan to say and choose your words carefully. Practice saying it aloud, too and
Run your words by someone who loves you.
If it matters to you to bring it up, to find your words, and say your peace – then get some help doing it. Someone wise once told me to imagine three different types of people in every audience. For example, if you have an idea to pitch imagine one conservative thinker, one liberal, and one in-betweener. How will each person react to your pitch and idea? This same practice works for finding your words and saying your peace. How would 3 very different people react to this?
Just do it.
There’s only one way to jump into a lake. So, jump.
We all lose our voices from time to time and recognizing it is half the battle. Bad haircuts and awkward moments will continue to happen. Sometimes finding a way to say no will be empowering but other times letting it run it’s course will be fine, too, because it’ll be a learning moment.
Either way it’s about paying attention to how situations and people make us feel and continually shaping our experiences by applying that knowledge and essentially, creating more moments that make us feel the way we want to feel.
Bad haircuts will happen but they don’t matter. Hair grows back.
Photo Credit: Kristina Flour