Speak up and start seeing the benefits
Last weekend I attended the Women and Power conference at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, N.Y. I was blessed to hear from leaders like Sally Field, Eve Ensler, Majora Carter and many more. Whether male or female, I think anyone would benefit from the discussions held there.
In the invocation speech, Omega’s founder, Elizabeth Lesser, raved about the lineup of speakers and all of the empowering voices she’s encountered throughout her career, including Nobel Peace Prize winners, spiritual leaders and world-renowned activists. Looking into the crowd, she said: “These leaders are no different than you are. We all have insecurities about speaking our truth, and we’re all just making it up as we go along.”
This message resonated with me deeply. As a speaker and author I am out in the world sharing my voice, but I still have moments when I question my right to speak up. At Omega, I realized I’m not alone. Field spoke of her fear of greatness, Carter admitted her fear of speaking about leadership and Ensler spoke of her need to be accepted. As I listened to some of the world’s greatest leaders share their deep-rooted fears, I realized we’re all in it together. In some way or another, we all question our right to claim our voice and share our beliefs with the world. Lesser calls this “imposter syndrome,” the feeling of, “How dare I speak up? How dare I claim my power?” Our inner voice of fear, the imposter voice, holds us back and blocks us from owning our opinion, our voice and our power.
Our power cannot come from an outside credential — it must come from an internal condition. Carter said it best: “Listen to the voices that are telling you that you are powerful. It’s your duty to share that.”
Rather than see ourselves as separate from the world’s great leaders, we must accept that we’re all in this together. As Lesser said, “No one is sure, no one has the answer, but we need leaders who are willing to do something that has never been done before.” If you deny the power of your inner voice, you deny the world of change. If these women hadn’t used their voices, we wouldn’t have Ensler’s V-Day movement to end violence against women and girls or Carter’s Sustainable South Bronx revolution or organizations like UNICEF and Planned Parenthood. What will we lose without your voice?
— Gabrielle Bernstein is the author of “Spirit Junkie.”
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