I’d like to tell you how to find your voice, or if you already have a voice, to give it a bit more volume. In order to do that, I would like you to gain the perspective of a new parent. Some of you are already parents and this will resonate with your experience. For those of you who haven’t become parents yet, use your own parents to think about in this example.

Many parent’s biggest dream is to have children. Children are the hope of the future of all of us. Because each of us is intrinsically born good, we all want that good to be perpetuated and having children is one of the best ways to make this happen. We parents want our children to experience more good than we did. We work hard to eliminate from their lives what we had to suffer in our life. Some of us are actually successful at doing that. Some of us simply don’t see that we have become our parents.

We teach our children our highest standards. We provide for them in our best way possible. We foster our love, our affection and our attention on them and we make every right effort we know to make to help them mature into responsible, successful, and happy adults. Some of us are successful at this and some are not. Those who are have a keen insight into the ‘why’ of things. Those who are not successful have done very little inner work and the heritage to their children contains all their short-sightedness, unfortunately.

As young adults, we frequently can see the mistakes our parents have made if all we have to go on are the bad feelings generated when they raised us. Some of us seek the help of professional therapists and coaches to gain keener insight. But whether we want to or not, sometimes in our child-rearing efforts we squelch our children’s sense of individuality. They sublimate who they truly are in their effort to live up to our expectations because they love us so.

I don’t think that anybody gets to escape from pockets of feeling less-than in our lives due to our parent’s influence. It doesn’t have to stop there. And here are some of the techniques you can use, either by yourself or along with another’s help, to become more of the individual you were meant to be and find your right voice.

  1. Learn as much as you can about your parent’s childhood.  Get them and your relatives to tell you their childhood stories.  What was it like for them? What were their challenges?  I have a friend whose father always raged about unfairness and inequality.  She discovered that his father has lost a job during the Depression due to his own brother’s lying about him, and he was unable to provide for his six children.  He died of a bleeding ulcer when her dad was 15. He never got past that horror, and he passed it along to his children.  She said he never saw what she saw, but she was able to stop being angry over unfairness with this insight.
  2. Use the help of a professional to gain insight into yourself.  A therapist, a counselor, a religious leader or a coach can encourage you to talk about what is going on in your life, and with their objectivity, see patterns that you probably don’t see. They will share their insights with you and thus, allow you to see yourself more clearly.
  3. Read self-help books or join a self-help community.  There is a vast array of books out there these days. I just did a search on Amazon.com under Books, Self Help and found 194,000 entries.  You can find them, buy them, and read them.  What remains after that is applying what you learn in them to your own life, and this is the most important part.  Creating a database inside your mind that is seldom used is a useless and sterile effort.
  4. Enjoy small beginnings.  Find a way to share who you have become as an adult with your parents as a start.  Gently saying to a parent “Thank you for your advice.  I will think about it.  I might not do what you recommend, but I’m so grateful for your input.” It’s important than you get in touch with what  you want, what you wish, what you desire for your life.  It cannot be about someone else’s dream any longer.  Learn to say “I don’t want to” when you don’t want to. You need to have pleasing you as your focus, and if you are good hearted, that will take in others as well.
  5. Determine to walk your talk.  I saved the best one for last.  You cannot speak one thing and do another.  You will be out of integrity in your life if you don’t do what you say to do.  If you say one thing and do another,  your words will lose trustworthiness and your friends will shrug you off as having no credibility. 

Those of you who know me, know that I am an adherent to Gandhi’s philosophy. In particular, I love the saying “Always aim at complete harmony of thought and word and deed.”  It seems simple, doesn’t it?  My challenge to you is that you make every effort you can to actually live what he has so simply recommended.  It will foster great success in your life.  I know because I live that way. If you make your thoughts, your words and your actions all parallel each other, you will Be the Change and you will have found your voice.

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