Little did I know as a kid that Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout was a hoarder, but somehow she scared me enough to take the garbage out. Even when taking the garbage out at our house meant opening up a peach colored wooden long trunk outside our maintenance shed that sometimes was home to raccoons. If you were not careful when you took the garbage out and you opened the lid you would see two eyes and grey, black, and white fur looking back at you. Who knew taking the garbage out was such a scary thing.
So when I was reminded the other day of the poem: “The Voice” by Shel Silverstein it brought back memories:
There is a voice inside of you
That whispers all day long,
“I feel this is right for me,
I know that this is wrong.”
No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
Or wise man can decide
What’s right for you–just listen to
The voice that speaks inside.
I only wish it was more popular to little children (girls especially). We all should teach kids early on how to listen to their own voice, so it does not take them so long to find it. It took me until I was in my early twenties in college. If I had parents, teachers, and family find unique ways to teach me that no one can decide what is right for me, I might have found that strong voice earlier.
Just as it might be hard for adults to continue to find their voice, it can be even harder for kids (but it does not have to be). We all need to listen more. We need to be quiet more. The voice inside you is there.
Softness. It is a word I have not thought about extensively. Growing up I saw my mom as the quieter type, my dad often rolled right over her, I am not sure he listened to her. In college I eventually found my voice, and then I resolved to make sure my voice stayed strong. I never wanted to be walked all over. However, recently I have been thinking about taking a step away from that strong voice. Not that I will lose the strength, but that I will be more aware of the volume, and the frequency.
I often think that thoughts and ideas come to us when we are ready to hear them. I am gradually (while reading other books) getting near the end of Kristin Armstrong’s “Work in Progress,” which I wrote about in the blog post: “The grace that grounded me.” I came across this quote on softness. It was an aha moment for me.
“Softness is sweeter and more direct route to resolution, every time. Please note that by softness I do not mean wimpiness. Softness is not some puny form of compliance. It is speaking your truth without malice or apology. It is staking a claim without fanfare or unnecessary noise. It gets the job done with elegance.” page 50-51
How many times have you been on the phone with your insurance company, or bank and are so incredibly frustrated that you get nasty? I am definitely one to raise my hand here. Chris is such a great example to me of what I would call a quiet strength. He is not rude or wimpy, but he is gentle and kind with those that he interacts with in these situations. I lose my patience easily and get frustrated. Take just yesterday, I had to call my insurance company back. I had spoken to them on March 31, and their fix to my claim was supposed to take 5-7 days, and then they were going to call me back. It has been 21 days and still no resolution. The response I received when I called is that my claim is getting reprocessed and it will take another 5-10 days for one aspect and then another 10 days for a different part. Seriously? So I think it should be resolved by the middle of May. As annoyed as I was I chose softness. I was kind and not frustrated with the customer service representative. Although I did tell her I did not have much confidence in hearing from them since I did not receive any communication in the first 5-7 days like I was originally told.
Why am I sharing this with you? I took the route of softness. I did not get nasty with them. I have a short amount of patience with companies that say they will do one thing and do not follow through with their promise. Additionally I have a small amount of patience for individuals that say they will do one thing and then do not do it. And, at the end of the day, it is not the fault of the customer service representative that I spoke with that her company has such extensive processing times. Why ruin her day?
I know there are other areas of my life where I could be softer. Firm, yes. Strong, yes. Yet, still bring softness to the situation. So often frustration gets in the way and our words are lost amidst anger and impatience. What if we lead with a softer side? I am going to try to focus more on flexing my softer side.