Claiming your voice
“I’ve learned about human rights. Now I know the right to speak what’s on my mind, and communicate what I want. In the past I didn’t know what rights are. Now I know nobody can abuse my rights”
I heard these words fiercely spoken by a 23 year old single mum called Mary Samwell, in a remote village in Malawi. They gave me pause. I hadn’t considered me speaking my thoughts as a human right before, but of course it is. To do so is an act of a free person. A slave cannot speak her mind, nor can anyone under the thumb of another.
For women this has historical resonances. A ‘mouthy’ woman was a perilous woman – she was locked up, institutionalized, burned, raped, had her children removed, and killed for speaking her mind. Today women are still told that when we speak up we’re pushy and aggressive. Sometimes we tone down what we want to say because we fear a threat of retaliation, including violence. In so many ways we are conditioned to crib the space we take to say what we mean and have our voice heard.
But we do have a right to our voices to be out there in the public and private space. When I heard Mary’s words I thought about how I didn’t fully own my own power to speak in that same fierce, radiant, newly awakened way that she did. In a very subtle way I’ve been like a frog in the heated water, not realizing how I’ve molded my own self to the conditions, rather than interacting and shaping them powerfully.
Some of you might find this surprising. This blog is the continuation of my journey to have my ideas heard and provide a forum for the ideas of others like Mary Samwell. By sharing insights and reflections, I’m hoping to create a space that has us each confront the shackles that hold us back – our mindset, our beliefs, and empower lovingly our growth as unlikely leaders.
Hopefully together on these pages we can support each other into new moments of aha like the gift that Mary’s comment was to me.
My inquiry of the week:
To notice where I don’t say what is needed to be said, and discover what stopped me in that moment.
I’d love you to join me in owning your own voice and discovering and moving through what keeps you silent.
A Tweetable for you : I have the right to speak what’s on my mind