ABUSED WOMEN, SPEAK OUT (our culture depends upon it)

I typically have a new coaching client fill out a questionnaire and below is what one of them said in answer to the first question on my questionnaire:

“I feel stuck in old patterns and sense that I am re-creating old situations. I feel that my ideas are stifled by fear of change, the unknown and failure. I feel general dissatisfaction with where my life is at despite having achieved a long-term career and raised my daughter.  I would like more energy, enthusiasm, resonance and grace in my life. “

Why does an apparently successful person feel dissatisfaction with their life – why are they stuck and what does this have to do with abusiveness?

Below is a quote from the book Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi.

“The Italian word for “evil” and “sickness” is the same, male, and the word for “speech” and “study” is also the same, discorso.

“Pathology” can be defined as discorso sul male [study of sickness (or evil)] Brother Galileo said. “I prefer to define it as male che parla [evil (or sickness) that speaks]. Just so with psychology, which is defined as the ‘study of the psyche.’ But I prefer ‘the study of the psyche struggling to speak through its neurotic disturbances.’

“There is no longer true communication among us, because our very language is sick, and the sickness of our discourse carries us inevitably to sickness in our bodies, to neurosis, if not finally to mental illness.

“When I can no longer communicate with speech, I will speak with sickness. My symptoms are given life. These symptoms express the need for my soul to make itself heard but cannot, because I don’t have the words, and because those who should listen cannot get beyond the sound of their own voices. The language of sickness is the most difficult to interpret. It is an extreme form of blackmail which defies all our efforts to pay it off and send it away. It is a final attempt at communication.

“Mental illness lies at the very end of this struggle to be heard. It is the last refuge of a desperate soul who has finally understood that no one is listening or ever will listen. Madness is the renunciation of all efforts to be understood. It is one unending scream of pain and need into the absolute silence and indifference of society. It is a cry without an echo.

“This is the nature of the evil of the Monster of Florence. And this is the nature of the evil in each and every one of us. We all have a Monster within; the difference is in degree, not in kind.”

Is being heard that big of a deal? Here is what my client said later in the questionnaire when asked, “Ten years from now – describe this period generally and specifically.”

“I sing. I drum. I collaborate. I write. I rejoice in a voice now claimed. My life is played to my own rhythm and harmony.”

My client in visioning a rewarding ten year period is talking about being heard. And later in the questionnaire the client talks about events, words and experiences that triggered you:

“Not feeling heard is a throw back to childhood and being cut off verbally by my father who too often interjected, end of conversation, after saying what he wanted but not allowing me to express myself. I am very aware of this scenario playing out in my life. I still struggle with deferring to others and then overdoing it when I finally claim my voice.”

All of this came from the client before we had our first coaching session – the coaching direction was not difficult for me to identify.

While this client was certainly not dealing in degree with anything like the person described in the book, Monster of Florence, there was clearly the impact of not being heard.

The issues we covered weren’t related to sexual abuse, however it makes me think of the number of current stories in the news about women claiming to have been abused. I wonder, for those women, what did it feel like to not be heard when a man was attempting to impose his will upon her – or for that matter, what does it feel like for a man who is being abused? And how does it affect her or him in the long run?

Bullies of all kinds do not listen, and are probably struggling to be heard themselves and so think they have no requirement to listen.

It doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me that women are speaking out today based on the environment we seem to be in. It feels like we are calling out in a variety of ways as a culture that doesn’t feel heard, and a culture that is showing signs of neurosis and maybe mental illness (can a whole culture become neurotic or mentally ill?).

Donald Trump to me symbolizes the much larger bullying going on by those who have no interest in us beyond how we can be used for their benefit (I see this in both political parties). They, like the bullies that came before them, use money and power to themselves finally be heard. They are people who should listen but can’t get beyond the sound of their own voices, unable to finally realize that the way to be heard begins with listening, not some form of shouting louder or silencing others.

I applaud the bravery of those women and others who insist on being heard and encourage them to do so as part of being healthy and supporting a healthy culture. I feel that entrepreneurs, and anyone who insists on being heard, are the personification of the voice that my client talked about when saying: “I sing. I drum. I collaborate. I write. I rejoice in a voice now claimed. My life is played to my own rhythm and harmony.”

I am in the business of entrepreneurs, people who by definition claim their own voice. The ones who I have found are satisfied, also listen carefully to what others are saying. They are not in it to make a loud noise – they are in it to experience what my client in one of the answers described as, “Feeling part of a team, working in a way that capitalized on my talents, feels connected with workmates and clients, receive appreciation, recognition, fulfillment with being part of a greater good/group.”

Is the person you are with listening when you express yourself AND does the person you are with feel heard when they are speaking to you?

I encourage you to play no part in supporting a culture that creates a desperate soul who has finally understood that no one is listening or ever will listen. Claim your own voice and support others by listening in a way that makes them feel heard by you. By my way of thinking, it’s fundamental in Dreambounded Leadership (and in any courageous life).

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