Finding a voice. Facing a fear.

There is a story told of the husband in his youth. Whenever family and friends would come round he would do his duty and he would come downstairs and sit with the company, however he would rarely say anything. One day when he was asked why he didn’t say anything his response was “I will speak when I have something important to say”. He’s still similar to a certain degree now, he’s not a fan of small talk, and would much prefer to be doing a job, but he’s getting better, in fact he is making it a goal of his.

I was about to write “I’m the opposite”, but I’m not entirely sure that is true either. When I’m with friends and family I can talk non-stop, although I’m also very happy to sit and listen. With strangers I’m not so good, although that is a strength of the husband. 

I have a very loud voice. Give me a stage and I will happily talk in front of hundreds of people. My job is essentially talking, well that’s the bit I enjoy the most anyway. Give me a blog site and I will share my thoughts. Why then do I need to… Find a voice. Face a fear?

In my last blog post Expecto Patronum I explored why I enjoy worship, and get lost in worship, and I think it’s partly to do with the fact that the words are written. Whenever I speak to a group of people I will have my talk written out. I’ve tried bullet points but they don’t work, I forget my key points. I feel safe knowing I’ve got the entire thing written down in front of me. In my lessons I know my stuff, and essentially have a script in my head. 

If I have the words, I have the confidence, I have a voice.

When I was at school I enjoyed my lessons, I especially enjoyed the discussions, even though I never took part in them myself. I liked to hear what other people wanted to say, I would listen to the variety of views, whilst quietly deciphering what I thought about the topic. Why didn’t I speak? The fear. I was afraid that I would be wrong. I was afraid that I would look like an idiot. I was afraid I would be ridiculed. Therefore it was easier to stay quiet. It may have been easier but I’m not sure it was beneficial.

Don’t worry I realise the irony that I now teach a subject where I actively encourage everyone to speak, and where I will often tell parents that their son/daughter would benefit from participating more. Although I do try to create an environment where they feel they have the strength to do so.

I am still the same today. I observe discussions on fb where people get irate and argumentative, but I never participate. I will talk with friends about frustrations and concerns I have in a variety of different contexts, when I am pretty certain that they share a similar view. Similarly I will share thoughts I have about improvements or new initiatives when I know that they are completely solid, the ones that are still in the process stay in my head. Well, the husband and E tend to be the only ones who hear everything!  However, it is rare that I will actually share the concerns or ideas with those who can make a difference, or offer advice and guidance. Why? The thoughts going through my head tend to be 

“what’s the point?” 

“I’m probably wrong”

 “it’s a stupid idea” 

“other people have probably got more important concerns” 

“what will I say if they question me?”

All of these things actually give a pretty strong message of how much, or little, I value myself, which is a whole other blog!

Over the last 3 months, when I have been stepping back I have really felt challenged about being a voice. Not just when I have a script, but when I might be going against the grain, when people might disagree with me, when I might be wrong. Not just when I’m in a group meeting, with the safety of others who I know are on a similar page, or when I’m being asked for feedback.

This is so daunting for me, it goes against everything I have ever done. I need to think about what it is im afraid of and work out how to address those fears. I need to learn from the husband. Currently my statement seems to be “I will speak UNLESS I have something important to say” and it needs to be “I will speak WHEN I have something important to say”.

I teach about inspirational people who risked their lives to be the voice that needed to be heard. Yet I seem to be unwilling to risk my reputation! Another starting point in the journey.

Changing zone…Changing track…

Pre reading warning… this has been in my mind all day, well aspects of it for a few days, but is being written following 3 pints over the course of 3 hours sitting in a pub with the one person who has known me all of my life, apart from my family, and therefore has a very unique insight into my life! The pre-warning being I’ve got no idea where this might lead!

I was sitting in the back of the car today as we were travelling down to Stroud to visit my aunty. I was reading my book for book group, but kept hearing snippets of the radio – including classic tunes such as design for life, dancing in the moonlight and wonderwall! At the beginning of the journey the phone in conversation was about stepping out of the comfort zone. But… after we had stopped for a coffee and comfort break I heard the presenter commenting on the fact that stepping upside of the comfort zone had led to the topic discussion of people achieving amazing things. Isn’t that so often the case? I cannot tell how much that one statement resonated with me today, at this point in time.

I’ve spoken befor about how comfort can be good but it can also be damaging. No… that’s wrong… it’s not damaging but it can be restrictive. I’ve spent a lot of my life living comfortably, there was nothing wrong with that, I was doing well, and life was good… but then I started pushing boundaries, stepping outside of the comfort and amazing things happened.

With recent set backs, I am very aware that I have started to fall back into some of those comfort zone habits. I was having this discussion with E the other day, our comfort is food. Over the last couple of months I have re-discovered the capacity I have to consume large chocolate bars and packets of biscuits. I wouldn’t necessarily say I have enjoyed doing it, but it is a comfortable reaction I have to stressful situations. I have been telling myself, “it’s ok, you’ve got to do what you can to survive at the moment”, “once it’s gone, it’s gone, so it’s ok to eat it all at once, then you can be good”, “you’re still walking a lot so you’re not going to get back to the size you were”, “tonight is  your only night when you’re not doing something else so you can’t go to the gym” “the husband is actually at home tand knight so it would be rude to go out for a run” I KNOW it is all complete and utter rubbish, and yet I felt I was able to justify it, or should I say I felt I could justify it. Is it just a phase, a necessity for this time, I don’t know.

I knew that something needed to change, E has said get back to the mindset you had two years ago (when the whole weight loss journey started) the problem is I don’t know what that mind set or motivation was in the first place. Last Sunday the sermon at church was based on some hard hitting topics, which I needed to hear, but the main bit I needed to hear was actually a video about adultery – don’t worry I’ve been good and the husband is safe! It was essentially dealing with issue of temptation, if there is a temptation on one train, then get a different train. (I cannot do it justice, I also cannot find a link to it). But rather than keep going on the train with the temptation there and you have to resist the temptation, sometimes you need to make the conscious, bigger step to change the train you’re on. Although I know now that the talk was about changing trains, in my head I have been saying “you’ve got to change tracks”.

On the London Underground there are a variety of lines, to get to certain places you have to change line, there are junctions and cross over points but changes occur. There are also zones and there are certain zones where only some of the lines go. To get out of the ‘ordinary’ zones you have to change track. I am at a point where I need to make a conscious decision to change track, to move my mind away from the temptation of my default comfort zone.

It’s difficult, but I have to remember what stepping out of comfort did before, and the amazing things I achieved. Unfortunately as I write this the voice in my head is saying “but remember you have to look after yourself, and you can’t keep pushing yourself if it is detrimental to your health”.

Seriously, I actually have a full blown argument going on in my head at the moment – in response to the voices above “but when have you been healthiest and happiest? When you pushed yourself”

I’ll stop the running dialogue there… you probably get the gist 

This is the balance that I’ve got to work out. But change track I must. And change zone I must. 

This morning I was lying in bed at the folks house coming up with all the reasons why I shouldn’t/couldn’t go for a run, but in the end I had to overrule my body. It wasn’t the greatest of runs and there was a fair amount of walking, but the track change occurred. I’m no train expert but my understanding is the pulling of a lever Changes the track of a train, at the moment I have to consciously pull that lever multiple times a day, it’s hard work but I’m going to keep that statement from the radio playing my head

Stepping out of the comfort zone has turned into achieving amazing things!