Understanding the Value of Your Own Voice with Jolene Underwood

Episode 40

Jolene Underwood is a writer, blogger, coach, and emotional health warrior. She draws upon her own personal journey toward emotional health, her psychology background, and her passion for counseling to help others cultivate a life well lived, no matter the circumstance. Jolene also leads a community of Christian communicators called Rise Up Writers.

In this episode, Jolene and I discuss how to know if what you want to write belongs in a private journal or on a public blog, why you need to be conscious of the burdens you’re placing on your readers, why she made the decision to join the #MeToo Movement by sharing her own story of how she became pregnant after date rape and how that experience led to her realizing she valued the voice of others more than her own, the struggles of finding the balance between guiding your children and letting them have their own voice, and so much more!

Don’t forget! Jolene is offering a special $15 discount exclusively for the listeners of the Voice of Influence Podcast on her Unleashed Heart and Soul Care Sheets! Visit www.joleneunderwood.com/unleash and enter the promo code “reclaimmyvoice” now through the end of March 2018.

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Transcript

Hey, there! It’s Andrea Wenburg, host of the Voice of Influence podcast. In October of 2017, the hashtag #Metoo gathered a great deal of momentum as a symbol of solidarity amongst the survivors of sexual abuse and those who’ve experienced sexual harassment.

At the time of this interview, we’re just a few months down the road and a host of justice-seeking movements have begun to converge. From the times of initiative, started by women in the entertainment industry, to the fall of individual male celebrities who have been accused of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse to the sentencing today, the day of this recording of the USA Olympic and Michigan State University doctor, Larry Nassar, accused by over 150 women for child molestation and abuse.

As a woman who has not had to endure sexual harassment to the point of feeling like the #MeToo hashtag would apply to me, I can still relate to the trials and the confusion that comes from an imbalance of power in many spheres of the world, while recognizing the messy relational and emotional difficulties that this topic stores in both women and men.

As a human being who cares about others and believes in the value that every voice matters, I feel compelled to contribute what I can to this ongoing conversation. I wanted to let you know about the sensitive nature of the topic discussed in this conversation so that you can take whatever percussions you need to take. But I also want you to know that my guest and I speak mostly about the concept of voice and how it relates to the various movements I just mentioned, not so much of graphic description of any particular circumstances.

If you are a survivor of sexual abuse, harassment, or misconduct; I completely understand if you do not want to join us for a conversation and I’ll just share a summary with you right now:

Your voice matters!

 

Today, I have with me, Jolene Underwood, a writer, blogger, coach, and emotional health warrior. She draws upon her own personal journey toward emotional health, her psychology background and her passion for counseling to help others cultivate a life well lived no matter the circumstance.

She also leads a community of Christian communicators called Rise Up Warriors, and after years of serving in multiple capacities and healing from various trials and traumas, Jolene enjoys a new season of life in Texas.

Andrea: Jolene, thank you for being willing to offer your voice to our listeners on the Voice of Influence podcast.

Jolene Underwood: Hi. Thank you so much for having me, Andrea. I’m super excited to be here.

Andrea: So would you tell us a little bit about what this particular season of life looks like for you right now?

Jolene Underwood: Sure, it’s very different for me because we spent so many years of my adult life; I got pregnant at a young age and had several kids and home schooling and lots of ministry things. Then we moved to foster on a ranch in a very unique set up where we had up to 12 kids in the home. When we came back, we ended up with two kids left in the house.

So I’m a grandma now. I only have two kids in the home. We’re longer homeschool and I’m not doing those particular ministries. But as a result of being at that ranch, it was a really stressful time for me.

After we served at a ranch, I came home with just signs of PTSD, anxiety, and depression. It was an extreme, unique situation. At that time, I thought “Everything has changed.” I no longer have all these kids at home. I don’t have the energy to homeschool.

I loved writing and so I started going back into writing and considering blogging. It was mostly something that I enjoyed at the time and wanted to kind of keep my brain moving. So that started the season of really intentionally pursuing healing for myself, not only for all the things that had happened while we’re at the ranch but areas of fear in life that just became kind of thematic and the different experiences that I had.

I said “You know what; it is time to really deal with some of this stuff.” I don’t think I consciously thought of it that way but it was the path that I was going down and that I felt like I was suppose to take.

So the last four years have been really amazing. I mean, really hard in a lot of ways but also through those challenges there has been so much freedom, peace, and joy that has come out of it.

So for me this year, I feel like this is the year for adventure that we’ve been going out through this healing journey and now God is saying here’s a new season of things that I have re-explored. That’s part of what really matters to me as hearing from God’s voice and that’s why it felt like He had told me that it’s time to take the next steps and adventure.”

So the new season is full of writing. I write on my blog for the topics of emotional health and spiritual growth. The blog is still kind of shifting in tone of voice from over the years when I started writing. It was primarily, mostly me kind of figuring out my voice and what I wanted to write about and I was still processing a lot of the pain as well.

Now, I’m in a place where I’m writing content that I can identify with, that relates to other people kind of the struggles of anxiety or trying to live well but things keep not going well, and how do you keep persevering in hard circumstances. Some of the content there are becoming more practical but also sharing some of my story.

I serve a community called Rise Up Writers. It is Christian communicators. So writers, speakers, entrepreneurs, people who want to be effective at sharing the message that they feel that God has given them and wrestle with the intention of platform building or the value of their voice, which is something that I’m very familiar with and I find that it’s a common struggle. So I love having the opportunity to encourage them and help equip them and see what’s going to happen with their voices.

Andrea: Yes. And we have certainly connected over that shared desire to see that in people in that value of people’s voice.

So your emotional health, spiritual growth writing has shifted over the years, you said, in tone maybe. As you’ve been finding your voice, I’m curious what that looked like for you in your blog. When you started out writing, was it more to find and to be able to express what had happened or to be able to share your feelings and that sort of thing in a public way and now it has shifted? What’s the shift been for you?

Jolene Underwood: Andrea, I love that question because we’ve been talking in Rise Up Writers lately about several different things that have to do with platform. One of the things that I keep going back to is that we’re here to give value and not get value. When I first started blogging that’s where I was and I think a lot of people do that. It’s OK if you’re writing to just share your story and work through things. That’s fine. But I was writing kind of with dual intention. Part of it was because I enjoyed it but part of me also wanted validation for what I was putting out there even though my brain was not in a real healthy place to put out a great content and serve well.

So as I kind of would keep writing, it gave me an opportunity to test ideas. But then I could go back and look at it and say, “Wow, this is really just kind of depressing.”

I also realized that there was content that I needed to just write in journals and I was struggling to get some of it out. Like with the foster care situation, I carried a journal with me for a year or a year-and-a-half at least before I could even start writing any of the stories down because the trauma was impacting me. I thought I was going to write that on my blog. I thought I might encourage other people to engage in the foster care system, but it’s not what ended up coming out.

But over time, as I look back at some of the writing that I did, there was a consistent message that would come through as well. I started realizing that some of that was what was really inside of me was the passion to encourage people to see beyond the circumstances to pursue healing and growth.

So even though some of that writing had more less hope-filled content…and I’m not talking about tying a bow on every post. Some people would talk about where, “Oh, we just make it really lighthearted,” I’ve had a tendency to do that but it makes me cringe because we do go through really hard things.

So there’s I think a balance of sharing some of those challenging things but also not doing it in a way that puts this heavy burden on the reader. So that’s part of what has shifted as well that now I’m in a healthier place and I can write from a place that’s saying, “Here’s part of my story,” but not do it in a way that’s like, “Can you care for it?” Because it’s not the reader’s job to care for it. I get my care from my community, other people in my life, from me, or from my faith. So that has just been a huge shift.

I’m super, super excited about what’s ahead because, now, instead of thinking about whether or not people are going to click through and like what I read or whether or not they’re going to tell me that I put words together in a great way, I get to help people, and then hear their stories come back to me, the email or comments or whatever it is, and that gives me immense excitement.

Andrea: Wow! That is such an important point and so I’d like to dig into that just a little more, because I think you’ve got a lot of wisdom to share with us in this area. How does one know if what you want to write should belong in a journal or on a blog? Do you have any sort of advice for people who are trying to discern that?

Jolene Underwood: That is a really great question, too. I would say that if you’re starting to write something and the anxiety is starting to rise in you or emotion is feeling strong, consider that. That might be a signal that it’s not fully healed. It may not be. It maybe just a little bit of remnants after you’ve done a lot of healing work but it might be an indication that this is actually something I need to work out in a private journal because I think that’s really important and the healing process is to get the writing out and it can be really hard to let the brain release that. Your writing can get really like if you’re writing about it by hand, for example, you’re going to notice a shift in your manuscript, like whether it’s legible or not if you’re feeling a lot at the time that you’re trying to write it out.

So I think that’s a sign or an indicator. It’s not like “the sign” necessarily, but if it’s a fresh, current incident that you’re going through or have just recently been through, a lot of times we want to talk about it before we’ve processed it.

So sometimes I think we want to be helpful people. We want to encourage others. We want to be useful. We want our messages to matter. So when we learn something new, sometimes we want to just put it out there really quick for somebody else to listen to before we’ve taken time to actually process it, consider it, and let it penetrate our lives and change us in some way.

So that’s two things. I would say a third thing would be if you know that you’ve been kind of in some rough seasons and, you know, “Everybody knows I’m just kind of going through some rough times,” have a trusted friend or two read it and say, “What kind of tone do you hear from me? What kind of message are you hearing from me? What is the main point?”

For me, part of my writing not only was it focused more burdensome probably to other people but it wasn’t clear. So my brain wasn’t clear and I’m not getting the content out clear so even having somebody else look at it for clarity would have helped me.

So I would say that’s the three things.

Andrea: So what does that look like? You mentioned putting a heavy burden on the reader. How does one know? What is the burden that you think could be put on the reader?

Jolene Underwood: I think it’s tricky to know and I think that’s something that you kind of have to evaluate and ask yourself and then maybe go back a week or two later.

So if you’re not sure, this is the possibility that you could try. Try writing something; try even putting it into a blog post format or whatever, if you’re an entrepreneur, something that you’re using for other people. Let it sit for a day or two, come back and do some edits. Let it for two weeks; come back when you’re in a different season but make sure that you’re coming back when you’re feeling good at that time.

So maybe you’ve just exercised or you’re just having a good day whatever, come and re-read it and really think about the reader who’s reading it. What are they going to get out of this message? What benefit does it have for them to read what I’ve written rather than am I going to feel benefit because other people are reading it?

Andrea: I can relate, so relate to everything you’re talking about because when I first started writing and publishing on a blog… and this is maybe another good question, though, because when I first started, it was hard. There was such a tremble in my press of return, or whatever, to actually publish a post because it was personal. But at the same time, it felt like there was a duality going on there where there were two stories. There’s the story of I am pretty well healed from this but at the same time, this is very personal. So it does feel very emotional to share it because I don’t know what kind of feedback I will get.

So still I’m wondering, there’s still a desire for some kind of validation, just a nod even, from somebody in authority or somebody that I really respected to be able to say to me, “You know what, Andrea, this is good. It’s good that you’re doing this.” I really craved that.

So what’s the difference there and what kind of advice do you have for somebody else that’s kind of looking at that going, “You know, I am nervous about sharing but does that mean that I shouldn’t?”

Jolene Underwood: Oh man, you know what? I still struggle with that and I think it’s OK. I think that being nervous about sharing something and whether or not it’s going to be validated by somebody else is natural. I think it becomes more of an issue if it’s crippling you from putting the content out there or that you start thinking about it so much and you keep checking stats and you’re concern starts to shift over stewarding the gift of writing and the craft and the platform opportunities that we have in focusing more on what you’re getting out of, it if it keeps coming up.

It’s really important to have people in our lives that we can also go back to and say, “This is an area that I’ve recognized that I start to struggle with,” and just talk to them about what we’re going through.

If it’s really safe, close person then they could say, “You know, maybe it’s a time to step back,” or “Yeah, I understand.” And they just kind of comfort which helps bring that anxiety a level down so that you can keep going.

Andrea: OK, Jolene, are these the kind of conversations that you’re having in Rise Up Writers?

Jolene Underwood: I will say I don’t know that we’ve had these specific conversations but we… when Facebook announced another thing with algorithm than changes, honestly, I think some of those things have already been in place. And a lot of people started getting really concerned about what the changes were coming up and how that was going to impact pages. So many people in the writing community were facing building a platform and then also the writing and then you have to learn graphics and all these different pieces. So when something changes like Facebook Pages, it makes us little nervous that we have to learn something new.

So what I’ve been doing is I offer content that is both encouraging and equipping. So I alternate back and forth between I may do something that’s more spiritual in nature.

I might go, “Hey, it is time for us to do the work,” and really kind of kick our butts out there, or just really, “let’s get equipped in understanding something so we can make out choices.”

So with the Facebook Page discussion, I brought in another blogger and writer who’s had viral posts. We did a Facebook Like Video that was amazing and people ask questions. I had another guy come in and talk about SEO.

But then we took that Facebook page discussion and I did a separate blog post that I’m still working on. It’s pretty long, but it’s very scannable blog post with a YouTube video that will go out probably by the end of the week about Facebook Pages and Christian communicators to help people look at the practical aspect, “OK, what does this news actually mean? What are some things that we can do with it?”

But then they go into the aspect that encourages them and says, “This isn’t the end-all. This is not Facebook Zero. Here’s how we can learn and grow from it,” and encouraging people in that. So when I brought up the part about giving value and not seeking to get our value, that’s been repeated several times because I think a lot of the struggle with it. I’d still get out there and of course we all want some to read our stuff. We don’t want to do work where nobody could pay attention to it. That wouldn’t even make sense.

So there’s always going to be kind of that tension of is this starting to get a strangle on me? One of the questions that I ask is when we’re evaluating some of these things, is it something that’s stretching me? So maybe I can grow in it and take it some steps at a time.

Is it sapping me? Like this is not for this season. This is causing me too much tension, too much anxiety, I need to step back for a while.

Or is it sapping me and draining me completely of life and joy and, “I don’t even enjoy doing this anymore.”

So those are some of the conversations we’re having.

Andrea: That’s very helpful. I’m sure everybody probably feels like they’re getting fed on many different levels.

Jolene Underwood: In the community group of 350, it’s a very active community. And then I also offer a newsletter and the directions that were headed for Rise Up Writers is some collaborative content. So we’re doing monthly Zoom call and then sometimes we’ll do these Facebook Lives but this has been more spur-of-the-moment and I’m going to have some other people adding blog content. Because I really value the voices of the people that are part of the group and doing this as a collaborative collective work.

I have to balance how much time I have because it is free. Some people sometimes make donations to help me out. But I love seeing other people in our group step up.

And maybe they’re not going to develop a course, for example, on how to use Pinterest but last week we had a gal in our group lead a Zoom call on how to use Pinterest _____ and it was immensely helpful for people that were part of the community. It didn’t take a lot of time to do that. It wasn’t just me. It’s not just me sharing my opinion.

Andrea: Cool. That’s very cool!

So here’s something that came up in the last few months. This is currently, we’re in January 2018, and in October of 2017, the hashtag #MeToo became very popular. It kind of grew in momentum and started to kind of sweep over the nation and over the world. I noticed that you had posted a blog post with your own hesitancy to share and to actually use the hashtag, but you did. You used the hashtag #MeToo. Can you tell me and tell our listeners why you decided to post your article and your story and go ahead and say, “Me too?”

Jolene Underwood: Thank you for asking. It’s interesting to me that the one blog post that gets hits every single day is that blog post. So the story is about date rape and getting pregnant through date rape, and that blog post is titled, I Said No, He Said No Problem – A Date Rape Story.

Initially posting it, I hesitate some because calling it date rape was something that I have had to accept over the years because I know people who’ve been in situations where the rape was violent, and this situation wasn’t violent. But it’s important to use those words because a lot of other people have experienced it.

So after I’ve shared that story, I received emails every now and then from somebody telling me their story. I tear for them. My heart hurts for them. They’re just simply looking for someone to validate that they were violated.

So sharing the message and sharing with the hashtag #MeToo I felt was important to do. I think sometimes I wrestle with it because it’s not my main message but it is a part of my story and that’s something that happened to me and that there’s hope in the story too.

Andrea: And it is so tightly related to the idea of sharing your voice. Would you mind sharing with us about why you felt like… I mean, the title alone, “I said no, and he said, oh no problem,” that alone says, “I was trying to share my voice, was trying to use my voice, but it was disregarded.”

Jolene Underwood: Yeah. Well, I can share a little bit of the story if you want. Basically, I had been a new resident to Texas and I was struggling as a single mom already. I was trying to get work and I was a temp and I had moved down here for one guy. We broke up and then somebody else had asked me out. He had money and he seemed nice and I thought, “OK. Well, it would be great to be treated nice.”

So I agreed and then he invited me over to his house where he lived with several other people and asked me to bring my son with me. I actually really struggle with telling people “no” so I had to learn a lot in the areas of boundaries and confidence with my voice, and especially the value of it. But for some reason, I just had this feeling and I said, “Just so you know, I will come over but we’re not having sex.” And he said, “Oh, don’t worry. I would never do that,” and he just tried to reassure me over and over again.

Well, that kept happening progressively throughout the night and, ultimately, I was in a position where I just didn’t have the strength to keep saying “Look, I don’t wanna have sex.” And I was too afraid of hurting his feelings so basically valuing his voice over valuing my own voice and how he was violating me and disrespecting me.

So I did what I knew to do at the time. I’d actually already experienced the date rape situation where I lost my virginity and it had happened very, very, very quickly. I didn’t say no at the time and so I felt a lot of guilt for that and so maybe that helped prompt me this time to say at least that much, but I was scared. I wanted him to simply honor what I said. Why can’t you just respect the fact that I said no?

He basically just keeps saying, “Yeah, no problem. I won’t do anything you don’t want me to,” and then I got pregnant.

Andrea: You said that you were afraid of hurting his feelings. I think that this happens a lot in so many different levels for people, and a lot of times it’s women who are afraid of hurting other people’s feelings. It feels like we’re here to make sure that that doesn’t happen or something. I don’t know.

But what was it for you, do you think? If you were to look back and say, well, what was nurtured in me or what was… and I’m not accusing anybody in particular, I’m just curious. What was it about your surroundings; your growing up inside of you that was just so concerned about hurting his feelings?

Jolene Underwood: I have evaluated that and looked at that for the last few years and there are several different things, I think, that came into play. One, I’m a sensitive person and I have come to accept that. I have a friend who has a group called Sensitive and Strong for highly sensitive people who are strong women, and I was like, “You know what? That kinda fits me,” because I am sensitive but I feel strong. But I didn’t feel strong then. But I did feel like it was inside of me just I didn’t know how to live that way.

Much of my life, I would just really notice the way that other people responded or didn’t respond. It became very personal to me and I became more fearful of trying. They were not major incidences. It was more like peers laughing at you when you bring up something or teachers who think that you can’t do something that you’re trying to do rather than encouraging you. Those types of things that weren’t major but they still formed belief systems inside of me.

And basically, after I kept evaluating this and I started working through some of my own healing part of that was understanding the destructive beliefs that I had and dismantling them. It didn’t happen overnight. But once I was able to recognize that that was a destructive belief then it has continued to unravel over time.

The biggest one that came out for me, or one of the biggest ones, first, was other people’s voice matter more than my own. So over and over and over again, if somebody was in authority or they had more confidence than I, if they spoke and I felt shut down, I would stay shut down. That kind of pattern in my life played out repeatedly.

Well, in high school, I was struggling and I couldn’t get my own emotions out. I ended up in a hospital for eating disorder and depression, self-harm. I remember at that point I recognized, “Oh, my goodness, this is happening because not coming out of what’s inside of me,” like I’m not getting it out, I’m not telling people, I don’t have safe people to talk to. I really did but I didn’t know how to do that.

So that summer just before I ended up in the hospital, I had been sexually harassed at my job. That was just mostly my boss was buying me lingerie and I didn’t know what to do with that. I was like, “Umm, OK. Thanks.” I knew it was inappropriate but now I know that it would be better if I spoke up. I don’t have guilt for not speaking up because I didn’t know how to do it at the time but I know that continued to impact me and then the first situation of date rape happened just before I went to the hospital. I forgot what the original question was.

Andrea: So you were in the hospital because it was hard for you to not get it out. You couldn’t get it out. So it sounds like your voice was stuck inside.

Jolene Underwood: Yes, yes. It definitely was. I would journal and, at a young age, I had a relationship with God where I was writing in my journals but I was also very melancholy. I’m more of that type of person. I would kind of just be sad or I would enjoy songs that kind of felt deeper in my soul. I would just kind of curve inward and stick with my voice there.

You know what’s really interesting is, just in the last few months; I had conversations with a friend in particular where we were talking about a couple of childhood incidences where I really felt threatened with my voice. There were things that came back to memory and then I started working through in healing. When I shared the incidences with her, in those moments, I actually spoke up for myself.

There was a time when I was told that I couldn’t be part of choir and I said, “Well, I just wanna sing for God,” and I spoke up, but I don’t remember that. My mom had to remind me.

And there was another incident where somebody told me I couldn’t do something and I said, “Well, I’m gonna do the best I can.” I was young and those things I didn’t remember. So it’s interesting to me because that voice was shutting down more and more but it was always there.

Andrea: You said that confidence and authority, when other people had confidence or they were in positions of authority that really shut you down. One of the conversations that’s been taking place lately has been around the idea of imbalance of power. I understand that some people are just naturally going to express themselves more confidently and so that could shut other people down, whether they intend to do that or not or whatever. But do you think that you experienced imbalance of power?

I was thinking about even as kids, and I apologize for going on, but the trial sentencing for the Olympic doctor, the gymnast doctor, Larry Nassar, is taking place today. The sentencing is taking place today and I’ve been listening to the children, the voices of these women who were children at that time and that imbalance of power, just a doctor-child relationship. And then I was thinking about my own kids in that how are we supposed to teach our children to have a voice when they’re supposed to be respectful and not question authority? That sort of thing.

So I guess what I’m coming back to in this is do you feel like, as a sensitive young girl, that you were hearing messages that you really shouldn’t ever question somebody who has power, somebody who is in authority?

Jolene Underwood: I think part of me is wired,. You know the StrengthsFinder? One of my top five is… what do they call it in there? It’s Responsibility or Duty. So I don’t really know which came first. What part is part of me? I wasn’t in a situation where there was like a dictatorship or something like that. My parents they have things that they wished they could have done differently. Let me speak to my own things that I’ve done to my own children.

Andrea: Oh, sure!

Jolene Underwood: Because when you are parenting your kids and they’re expressing a different opinion than you, it is easy to get frustrated and to assume that what they’re saying is almost like an attack on you if you haven’t done your own work.

Sometimes, as children, we can come across a lot of people in our lives that start to try to tell us how to think, what we should do. And you have to do that in the beginning, like what you need to do today. “I’m taking you to a potty,” those types of things when they’re little, right? But what we don’t end up doing is as they start expressing their independence, know how to help them shape that for themselves but also giving them the healthy boundaries around it and that safety. And it’s really challenging.

So for me, with my own children, my older boys, when they would do things that would defy me or would go against what I wished they would have done, I was getting angry. So I didn’t give them a voice because I basically told them that they needed to do things my way.

So I have regrets, and I’ve talked to my boys about this, that I didn’t give them a chance to share what was going on with them. Sometimes kids can do things and we still need to tell them like they cannot do that and this is how the rules work in our household, but we don’t have to do it in a way that shuts their voice down. We could still give them an opportunity to hear what they have to say so their hearts are heard.

So as a young girl, I think it was more of just a small Christian school and I felt the obligation to serve God and to do the right thing. I felt the pleasure of when I got it right. I felt the displeasure of when I got it wrong. That really shaped me feeling like I had to do it all right. If I didn’t, it was too scary to talk about. It was too scary to be messy, too scary to be just a broken mess at times. I think that when we can give our kids that opportunity, my younger kids are reaping the benefits of that now.

Fostering changed my parenting paradigm significantly. So I’m seeing the benefits for them where they feel like they can still express that they’re angry about something but then we can talk later. They’ll apologize. We can have a conversation when they’re ready, and those types of things.

 

Andrea: Yes, that is so good. Trying to find that balance as a parent is so hard. It is such a hard road and it so guilt ridden. You feel guilty if your kids screw up and you feel guilty if you shut them down. But it’s something that’s worthy of our time and our effort and our sacrifice to screw it up, to just keep trying and trying to find that balance, if that’s what you could call it.

But I really value what you’ve just said about parenting and trying to grapple with how to handle this idea of voice with our kids because this is such a big, big issue in general, and especially having come to the forefront now. I think, for both of us and our work with people who are wanting to share their voices this is a huge topic for us to even begin to allow other people a chance to start to think about and give them that safe space to be able to consider where they’ve been, why it’s hard.

So do you have any other thoughts that you’d like to share with us in closing on that particular topic?

Jolene Underwood: Yes. Let me put it this way. We have an opportunity to make a difference by considering any potential aspects within ourselves. So when these circumstances come to the surface, like the #ChurchToo, the #MeToo, the public media sexual harassment stories, these things it’s amazing to me that they’re all coming out at the same time pretty much in a short window, quite frankly. We can get hung up on focusing what other people doing wrong. We need to evaluate those things and especially if we’re in a leadership position, and those types of things.

But each of us can look to ourselves and say, “In what way am I, when I’m relating to another person, especially somebody who maybe reports to me or is younger than me or looks up to me in some way, is there some way that I am trying to get my value from them?” Kind of like I talked about before, because when we’re seeking value from our kids, from our spouse, from other people, we want them to do things our way to make us feel better.

If we have our own stuff going inside of us we refuse to deal with, so maybe it’s our own hurts, our own destructive belief patterns, our own unexpressed emotions I talk about too, like sometimes we go through grief situations or really painful losses or even small losses and we don’t let ourselves feel those emotions then we become kind of like this little ticking time bomb inside, or can be, I should say. So that ends up coming out to other people.

So this imbalance of power so many times I think these people that are harassing, they’re trying to get power because they don’t feel power or control inside of themselves. They don’t feel peace inside of themselves. So we can make a difference by working on ourselves and learning to become a more healthy person so that we’re offering more to other people and, in turn, when we’re in conversation…

I did an article for I Believe recently and the original title was Ten Ways You’re More Selfish Than You Think. They changed it to Being Selfish in Relationships. The first point of the article was that when we start to recognize areas of selfishness, we can live more free. So of the ten things, the first thing was being captain of the conversation. If we think of being captain of the conversation in relationship, even to our kids or to other people that may look up to us, if we’re in a position we’re constantly trying to tell them what to do, tell them what we think and make things happen, it’s unhealthy for us and it’s devaluing their voice.

Andrea: Yes. Yes. And I’ve shed many tears in the last… actually, it’s only been a very few hours I ended up staying up late into the night last night watching videos of these young girls and hearing their stories and thinking about our conversation. I just have been feeling like we really needed to talk about this. I’m just giving a hearty, hearty yes to what you just said. I feel like that is incredibly, incredibly important and I hope that we can keep spreading that message.

Jolene Underwood: Me too. When I see other people growing healthier and stronger as humans, it makes me so happy because we want to see changes in the world, we want to see good things, and we each have different ways that we get to impact the world.

But it’s such a beautiful picture and so valuable when we’re individually working on the things inside of us and it impact things exponentially. I think that we really need to see the value of the small work here, locally, in our own communities, in our own relationships.

When I wrote this piece, I was nervous about writing it because I wasn’t sure like, “Well, is anybody gonna read an article that tells you you’re selfish?”

But the feedback that I’m getting, hearing from other people, owning, “Yeah, a lot of these sound like me”, “a lot of these describe me”, “thank you for helping me more aware so that I can work on myself”. It’s not condemnation. It’s not like a heavy burden, but just awareness so we can grow.

Andrea: It’s awareness and yet, at the same time, to be aware of the pain that were causing other people is painful for us, and that’s OK. And that might actually lead us to some true repentance, some true change and forgiveness, the experience of true forgiveness which is so much more powerful than trying to empower our own voices.

So anyway, it’s so, so helpful. It’s so good. Thank you. Thank you, Jolene, for your work in the world empowering voices and for doing your own work of healing. I know that that’s not just been a solo process but thank you for engaging in it and being open to it so you can have a bigger impact with others and help others heal as well and so that will just ripple effect to the world. I just thank you for being here and, yeah, thank you.

Jolene Underwood: Thank you, Andrea. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk about voice and the value. And I’m excited to see more people start valuing their voice and using it well.

I wanted to let you know that Jolene has a tool called Unleash: Heart & Soul Care Sheets, and she is offering a voice of influence discount of $15 through the end of March 2018. So use the code reclaimmyvoice (all in lower case, altogether no spaces), reclaimmyvoice by going to joleneunderwood.com/unleash.

Friend, go reclaim your voice and make it matter even more!

 

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2 thoughts on “Understanding the Value of Your Own Voice with Jolene Underwood

  1. I super appreciated this recording and Jolene’s opening up and digging down into the sometimes murky waters of using our own voices — both appropriately, and at times, with necessity.

    Also appreciated the topic coverage about voice for bloggers and entrepreneurs, and the discussion around appropriateness for featuring hard stuff — when to know if it’s healthy sharing, or not, and the pointers Jolene gave on how to assess this.

    I was inspired, encouraged, and spoken to (helped) on a number of levels.

    Grateful!