This map we've been creating through the landscape around personal power and living healthy, empowered lives has taken us deep into our own core wounds and out again through how we think and feel around not just the wounds, but around everything in life. We've looked down to see the foundation upon which our feet are planted and have looked all around to determine whether we are in balance, and within to find our center. We've seen how all our relationships are touched by our thinking and feelings, and that our reality is, literally, created by the ways we think and look at the world, our lives, our relationships, and our spiritual connection. We've explored the boundaries that are important to respect -- both ours and those of others. All of these factors help us to engage deeply with the world around us in deeply authentic ways. Quite a bit of this work has been internal process -- the fourth principle focuses on bringing the internal out into the world.
The fourth principle of personal power is Voicing the Self
The ways in which we voice ourselves is the primary way through which others know us. It forms the framework around how we engage the world around us. Voicing ourselves uses the voice, certainly, but it also involves the non-verbal cues that form 85% of how we are received by others when we communicate. This is important to remember because our words and our non-verbal cues need to align for our message to be projected authentically. There are lots of examples to demonstrate this. Someone asks us to do something we really don't want to do, but we're trying to be accommodating so we say, "Sure," but our hesitation, demeanor, and expression powerfully communicates that we'd rather say, "No." Or someone tells us a wonderful piece of news, say, about a new job, a dream job, and we say, "That's great. Congratulations." but what we're actually feeling is jealousy because we might be toiling away in an unsatisfying job, so our body language and expression might seem less than enthusiastic. People pick up our non-verbal cues and trust those more than our words. We are deeply intuitive creatures when we are paying attention and over millions of years have developed a non-verbal language that either affirms or undermines the words we speak.
When people are listening to politicians, religious leaders, potential life partners, children, they are looking beyond the words to communicate the truth of what is being said. Anyone who has been a parent knows when their children are being less than truthful -- it's not the words that children say, but the facial expressions, how they are holding their bodies, whether they make eye contact, and so many other forms of non-verbal communication that reveal so much more than words do. In the recent presidential debate, commentators made note about much more than what President Obama or Governor Romney said, but how they were saying it. They asked, "Why didn't he make eye contact?" or "Did you notice how much more confident [this one] seemed over [the other]?" The fact-checkers were busily at work too, but the non-verbal cues were noticed and reported. Interrogators have been trained to notice the non-verbal cues that betray falsehood -- a well-trained interrogator is better than a lie-detector machine.
I mention all of this merely to point to the fact that our thoughts and feelings translate into body reactions that communicate how we are thinking and feeling, regardless of the words we are using to communicate our message. When we are passionate about something, people can see it and feel it. When we are feeling low, people can see it and feel it. Being an amazing word-smith is helpful in communicating, but it is not our main tool for effectiveness in voicing ourselves. Mental and emotional self-mastery is the chief tool in being able to voice the Self well. And when our words are aligned with our true thoughts and feelings, we can become effective and powerful communicators.
When we voice ourselves effectively, we communicate that we are powerful beings and people pay attention to us and listen as we speak. This enables movement and possibility for attaining the outcomes we are working toward. Standing in our power enables confidence -- crucial to the ability to voice ourselves. It is the outer expression of inner health and well-being and a sense of our own personal power.
The ability to voice the Self is always life-giving and is never abusive to another. We know we are in integrity with this principle when we check in around our communication and are able to discern that how we voice ourselves is for the highest good. Not just for ourselves, but also for others and for the world. A good indicator of this is compassion.
Is our communication compassionate, even when (especially when) we are setting a boundary? Is there respect in our communication, for ourselves and for others? Does our communication acknowledge the needs of others as well as our own needs? (It is important here to be able to distinguish between needs and wants.) Are we being authentic, true to ourselves and to the greatest good in ways that reflect self-mastery, in the areas of our thinking and emotions? And, finally, are we in integrity with the commitments we have made? Are we communicating and acting with integrity?
Checking in around all these factors enables accountability with ourselves that demonstrates that something outside of us does not need to hold us to a standard of accountability. This is true power. Our power is reflected in the world through voicing ourselves authentically. And this empowers our engagement with the world in all areas of life and in our relationships.