My biggest problem growing up was finding my unique voice!
I was timid back then and was afraid to speak up. I remember my childhood being a mental and emotional battle between fear and adapting to a world different from home. I’m a first-generation Mexican-American, and my parents were big on preserving our Mexican culture, language, food, music, art, and traditions for my sisters and me, not to forget our heritage.
We were different from other families in the neighborhood, and I experienced that daily at school. My first language was Spanish, and I looked indigenous — not Black, Puerto Rican, nor Dominican, which was the majority in my elementary school. Some of my clothes were custom-made by my mom, second-handed, or from a local shop. Those who grew up in NYC in the 80/90’s know that fashion was everything — reflecting the hip-hop culture.
When teachers chose me to read, I instantly felt hot, sweaty, nervous, and emotional because I knew I didn’t speak English. One time in third grade, I felt confident and voluntarily stood up to read aloud, knowing that I would kick ass because I felt great that day. Guess what? It was a TOTAL MESS (which is why I still remember that moment). I heard a girl from the class say, “why does she always sound like a robot!” Little did she know that I had to process every word first to understand its meaning and then translate it into English. I clearly remember how my heart dropped when she made that statement, and I instantly lost my courage.
That moment became a pivotal moment in my life. I was only eight years old and understood that something had to change. I was furious that I still couldn’t speak English fluently but determined to learn as much as possible. From then forward, I changed my narrative instead of becoming more of what the kids thought of me.
Here are four strategies to help you speak up mindfully:
Step 1: Write one thing you want to work on regarding speaking up. It could be verbally standing up for your beliefs, learning to say no, public speaking, or stating what you need.
Dig deep and genuinely reflect on this first step. Pick something that you’ve always wanted to overcome.
Step 2: Find a quiet space, close your eyes, breathe, and sit for a few minutes with your higher self determining if you’re truly ready to make this change. Like everything in life, we must put in the inner work to see permanent results. Then make a conscious decision to work on it and commit to honoring your heart’s desires. It’s not enough to say, “I want to change” you need to be hungry for this shift and truly be ready to free your voice.
Step 3: On that same piece of paper, write down three actions that you have to do to get you a step closer to that change.
Step 4: Execute every single day! Dedicate about 30 minutes daily for at least 21 days. Science shows us that it takes 21 days to learn a new habit or let go of an old one. Use every encounter as an opportunity to work on letting go of this fear of speaking up.
In the first week, focus on changing the mental narrative through breathwork and visualization.
In the second week, start applying the changes daily.
And in the third week, do the mental and physical work together. Eventually, you’ll create a daily practice, feeling more confident about freeing your voice to speak up.
It won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it. Stick to the plan, and you’ll experience excellent results. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Therefore, be patient, take your time, and show yourself the love you would give a friend.
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