Its election year, and you will hear many requests to vote. Some people don’t vote because they feel like their vote doesnt’ count. As someone who lives in California, I get it, because this state is super blue. I feel that my vote would count more if I lived in a swing state like Ohio or Florida. Plus, I’m not a billionaire or even a millionaire. Will my voice be heard?
You may feel like a cog in the machine at work. Does anyone care what you have to say? Do you beat your head against the wall trying to get people to listen? I’ve been there. For me, there are few worse things than being ignored or not taken seriously.
For more senior people in corporations, it doesn’t necessarily get any easier. There is almost always someone you need to please – a bigger boss, shareholders, customers, employees. The stress can be intense, and some people feel like a fraud. Any minute, you will be figured out.
It may feel like no one is listening. It may feel like no matter how hard you try, no one knows the real you. If we are lucky, we have a handful of people who will have our back no matter what, friends, parents, spouses, and siblings. But those people are few and far between. And even then, they do not always listen.
When we don’t feel heard, we feel alienated and alone. It is demoralizing and disheartening. Sometimes communication can be improved, especially with a friend or partner. Best practice for business is to make everyone feel heard, and a key part of the team. But there is no guarantee that your company will do the right thing. In all of these circumstances, being heard depends on someone else willing to listen. Maybe they will, maybe they wont.
How To Guarantee Your Voice Will Be Heard in 2016
There is, however, a way to guarentee that your voice will be heard in 2016. You should talk to yourself. I don’t mean the steriotypical muttering under yoru breath, or swearing at other drivers. Singing in the shower doesn’t count either. Have a heart to heart with yourself. Look inside, and find those things that cause you to get stuck. And then talk yourself into making a small change.
This is what Mussar has taught me. How many of us know what we should be doing, but end up doing something else? Who feels trapped, not only that no one will listen, but that we are powerless to do anything differently? I don’t know how many times in my life I’ve sent an email, and then regretted it later. Why did I hit send right away, when I know that I should wait an hour first?
Learn to talk to yourself in a way that you can listen. Tell yourself that you have choices, and use the Mussar practice to bring your life into focus. Instead of just stumbling along from moment to moment, focus on the choice points. As helpless as you feel, you still have choices to make. Do you walk into the room with a smile or a frown?
Viktor Frankl, the holocaust survivor and psychologist wrote, “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.”
Remind yourself that within your soul, there is a battle between the Good Inclination and the Evil Inclination. I don’t mean the big evils, I mean the small. The judgement, the hurts, the indifference. We are wired to respond more quickly emotionally. (Which is why I should always wait before responding to email.) It is better to take time and let your better self chime in. You can be heard – you can hear your better self. Which one will you listen to?
Three Soul Traits to help you hear your better self.
Gratitude – focus on what you have and be grateful.
Order – plan time to talk to your self, and to listen. Try meditation – it can bring calm and clarity. If you are not a meditator, give it a try. The first time, chances are that your thoughts will start to race, like a voice shouting in your head. That voice is yours too, listen to it.
Awe – We live in an amazing world, full of beauty in music, art and nature. Whether you believe this is the hand of the Divine, or part of the wonder of the Universe, Awe can help you get through. If you are feeling stuck and unheard, tap into the power of wonder to help you listen to yourself, and to give you the courage to do something better, something greater.
Take a few minutes right now to talk to yourself. Start by listening. What is going on? What do you need?
And then ask what you can do for other people. Taking action to help others is a way to overcome paralysis that can come from not being heard.
I’ve started asking myself “If you are so lonely, why don’t you ever call anyone?” Ring Ring, you will hear from me.
If you talk to your soul, it will listen. You are your soul.