Honouring Voice

Your gut knows when a strong voice of dissent is needed. But what happens when your voice feels constricted and unsure? How can you step up without hesitation? Unless it’s been well lubricated and practiced, there’s a hitch. In that moment, stress jumps in to fill the void and offer you a hall pass. Coaxing a reluctant voice to the surface can be daunting—at least it is for me. Here’s what helps…

I start with a deep breath. The goal? To fill my lungs and spirit with the resolve to speak clearly and confidently. My body and psyche always react. How and to what extent depends on each unique circumstance. We can all identify environments where our voices might falter. For me, it’s when tension crackles in the air or deafening silence screams that I am flying solo. What makes your heart race?

Courage is the universal partner that triggers any reluctant voice. Courage allows us to share our valid perspective, despite sensing resistance…whether real or imagined. I used to berate myself for rallying courage before challenging entrenched views. Thankfully, experience has taught me that contextual factors always play a role. That awareness helps keep self-judgement at bay. Please note that I said understanding helps—no guarantees offered.

The root of the problem is embedded in the larger societal context. As you know, questioning entrenched societal and system views is rarely welcomed. Authoritatively delivered mantras defends the status quo, while dismissing voices of dissention. That strategy keeps a stranglehold on power, while being an energy drain on the dissenter. I encourage you to think about that larger context whenever daring to question school policies, program guidelines, exclusionary practices and more.

If you are still clinging to any myths that you are the problem—not good enough or brave enough, please let them go. Those messages don’t hold water. Your strong values, beliefs and passion are the foundation for becoming your best self. Adding an equally strong voice completes your structure. So, speak up, influence and be heard. What have you got to lose?

Susan Dunnigan

April 2022