Lately I’ve been noticing a pattern. When someone emails a question to me, they have a clear answer or sometimes begin to see the answer before I ever respond. The simple act of writing down the words can clarify a situation.
While I hope I can offer helpful solutions, in most cases, the biggest breakthroughs come when people recognize the issues, excuses, confusion, and sometimes desperation in their own words. Those words are a voice that can’t be clearly heard.
Why you can’t hear your own voice
- You are hearing too many other voices. When you are conflicted, confused or faced with a big decision, you may ask for a bunch of outside opinions. You keep asking even though you probably knew the answer immediately. The more voices that weigh in, the less clarity you have about what you really think or want.
- You don’t trust what you hear. Maybe you do hear your voice, but you don’t trust the answer. Not trusting your own voice is the quickest way to silence it.
- The answer scares you. If your voice tells you something that scares you or makes you completely uncomfortable, the easiest thing to do is cover your ears, yell “la la la la la!” and wait for another answer.
- You are too overwhelmed or exhausted to listen. If your life is too busy and chaotic or you are dealing with big, heavy stuff, it’s hard to recognize any kind of clarity.
We’ve all faced each of these scenarios at one time or another. While they will continue to arise, there is a solution.
Simplify Your Life by Writing It Down
Write for a few minutes every morning. You don’t need a theme and you never have to show your words to anyone. Just write. Julia Cameron suggests writing 3 pages every morning in The Artist’s Way, but I like to start small especially if you are establishing a new habit of writing daily. Set a timer for 5 minutes and write. Once that feels comfortable, add a little time. You might write down what you have to do for the day or about your dreams from the night before. Maybe you write about something that made you smile or cry. You might even ask a few questions that you want to think about.
Write your reactions. Instead of flipping out the next time things don’t go your way, commit to putting your reaction on paper first. Write down your harsh words, your hurt, and anything that crosses your mind. Take a walk and then come back and read your words. Tear them up, throw them away and then handle the situation in a better way. Hear your voice clearly and give your voice a chance to be heard by others.
Email someone who can help. If you have ideas that aren’t completely clear or if you are stuck in life or work, email and ask someone for help. Once you hit send, you fully own those words and you may be surprised at what surfaces before you ever get a response. This is different from a phone call. With a call, you might remember the words differently or avoid parts of the conversation by changing the subject or letting your mind wander. Write it down for ultimate clarity.
Write to your past. We hold guilt and regret as if it were our job about things that already happened and cannot be changed. Write a letter to your 10-year-old self or whatever age you want. Tell your younger self what you wish you had done differently and what you wish had known. Tell your past how hurt you’ve been or how sorry you are. Then say see you later.
Write to your future. Send a message to yourself 20 or 40 years from now. Tell your future self how you will live. Write about your hopes and dreams. Tell your future what you are most afraid of. Ask questions. Make promises. Then say see you soon.
Write it publicly. Some words are only meant for you, but when you are looking for feedback and ultimate accountability, share your words. You can comment on a blog post, like this one, about how you treat your voice, start a blog, send an email or ask a loved one to read what you wrote.
When you feel overwhelmed, lost in complication, or simply confused about your direction, write it down for better clarity. When you are joyful and full of gratitude, write that down too.
While your words could become thank you notes, journals, blogs, books or other meaningful works, just the act of putting words on paper will clarify your thoughts, magnify your voice and simplify your life.
Write it down.