Even If Your Voice Shakes...


Photo from @brenebrown Instagram post from 3/8/17

"Stand before the people you fear
and speak your mind -
even if your voice shakes."

Maggie Kuhn

When I first saw this quote a few months ago, it made me tremble. Since then it has been been a traveling companion to my own heart when I have needed its strength and clarity and I have shared it often with beloved friends and clients who have needed to have the courage to speak their truths to people they feared.

Sometimes these people were authority figures and sometimes the people they feared the most were their spouses, partners, relatives or friends. What follows below are some true stories that I have translated from conversations I have had with beloved clients and friends over the years (retold with their permission); perhaps you will find yourself in one of them. Perhaps it will help you muster the courage to go forth with a conversation you need to have even if your voice shakes. But one note of caution first, please do consider taking yourself into your own heart first before you speak and also take the person you are speaking to into your heart before you communicate.

“Speaking your mind” can sometimes come through with too much vitriol and attacking energy, there is an art to communicating clearly, honestly and with respect for both yourself and the person you are speaking to. This does not mean that you betray yourself in the process, it does means that you might consider that the person you are going to speak to has their own truths, that perhaps you are misunderstanding something, and/or that hurting others often is just more poison poured back into both of your souls.

Attacking someone, even if it's in the name of "speaking your mind" (or your truth), will usually bring out defensiveness in that person and an element of shaming into the dynamic which is corrosive. And while peace, improving and/or saving your relationship with this person might not even be your goal or even likely in the situation you are in, these possible outcomes become a whole lot less possible when you go into attack mode. And I don’t know about you but I always feel it’s worth leaving some room for miracles in any given situation especially those having to do with relationships.

So speak your mind, but do so with heart...


Story #1:

He loved her, but he could not stay with her.

He thought he was with her so that she could save him. But then somewhere along the line, he realized he didn't need saving and that perhaps they were drowning together. He tried to make it work, he twisted himself in knots of guilt that somehow he had failed her. That maybe if he could just get himself together that they would be alright. But some part of him sensed something just beyond the shoreline of where he was. He was miserable and an admitted mess, but his wholeness lay somewhere closer than he could believe on paper.

His inner compass knew what his head tried to talk him out of for years. He needed to leave. He needed to leave for himself. But he also knew that it was poisonous for her to stay in this relationship too, that doing so was eroding her own joy and peace. And even though he knew all this, he also knew that it was not his place to tell her what was good for her. That doing so would only make her resent him and would come across as controlling and arrogant.

He could feel that their roads were diverging and to stay any longer would further shipwreck both of them.

His voice was shaking, but he ended it...

And he was a mess, as was she. But some weight was now lifting, allowing him space to take some necessary hard steps to get himself in alignment with his own soul. Painful as all hell, scary as can be...but necessary.

There was an unexpected surge of courage that came in the aftermath of his speaking his truth to her with kindness, clarity and respect. And he realized this might just be the antidote to his sinking further into his self-sabotaging behavior.

For now he had done what he knew he had to do and he was no longer betraying himself. And having himself back had created a pathway of possibility for his future. And that had given him some much needed hope in a heartbreaking time.


She had entrusted her heart to him. It was not a romance, he was her teacher.

She believed he was a sacred part of this chapter in her life. She took a leap of faith into being of deep support to a whole new soul tribe of people, thinking he was part of the wind beneath her wings.

But he was not, far from it. He was a clipper of wings.

He was tricky, manipulative, and hid behind spiritual titles. He was not to be trusted. He ultimately was her teacher, but not in the way she had believed he would be. But rather the type of teacher that would teach her to become stronger in herself and to not let someone of supposed power intimidate her.

Her voice was shaking, but she stood before him...

Her inner voice knew it was necessary. She knew that somewhere within all this pain and fear that there was empowerment within this action. And that perhaps she should be her own guru after all.


She tried her best to be a good person. Being a good person was very important to her. She kept herself in knots often trying to do the right thing in any given situation. That meant that sometimes she was not herself, she was some version of herself. As she was confusing being a good person with people-pleasing. She was also under the delusion that perhaps she wasn’t a good person after all so she better keep on proving her "goodness".
She had gone through years of therapy, spending countless hours speaking about this situation and that situation, about this friendship and that friendship, etc. Disentangling the webs of complications, confusion, and stresses. Slowly but surely she realized the hard truth, that her people-pleasing not only was causing her to feel drained, resentful and ill at ease; but that it also meant that she was often lying.
This was a shock for her to realize, as she prided herself on being a good person, which to her also meant that she prided herself on being an honest person. But she realized that she was complicit in a particular form of lying that was insidious to both her self-esteem and to her relationships.
She realized that she didn’t really like a lot of the people she was twisting herself into knots about. That she had been trying to keep the peace in relationships ever since she was a little girl trying to keep her volatile father from exploding. She was very good at telling “the weather” of a person and shifting accordingly to be in concert with their mood.

But where was she in all of this?
So she often said “Yes” to things she didn’t want to say yes to. She would swallow small and larger issues she had with some of the people in her life and basically lie that they were “ok”.
So she had a series of hard conversations where her voice was shaking and she was speaking her mind. Initially, she made the rookie mistake of carrying the full force of all her bottled-up resentments into these conversations. And oh boy, did these conversations not work out the way she had hoped they would.

She thought she was so evolved, standing up for herself. But after a while and a bunch of exploded conversations and relationships, she realized that she wasn’t being grounded. That she was taking historical wounds and anger out on people versus having actual conversations with them that were present-based. She also realized that as she wasn’t in "real time" telling people how she was actually feeling, that she was often like a kettle about to blow.

How could she expect those around her to be mind-readers? What she actually needed to do was to be braver and clearer to others about who she was and what she felt.
So with her voice shaking she spoke to the person whom she really feared the most...her very worst critic...she spoke to herself.
And she literally looked at herself in the mirror and told herself kindly but resolutely that she would no longer be the good girl, she would no longer people-please, and that she would also no longer indulge in the pendulum swinging the other way. That she would not level her own pent-up words and anger at people either and take responsibility for her own part of these relationships without going to a place of guilt.

She was indeed through with being a good-girl, but she knew this next chapter would be messy as she vowed to herself with quivering lips to simply be more of her authentic self. And this was indeed new, exciting and also terrifying territory.


Is there someone that you fear that you need to have a conversation with even if your voice will be shaking? Is there anything you need to get clear about first before you engage in this conversation? How do you imagine you will feel after the conversation? Let me know in the comments if it feels right for you to share.


If you feel you could use some assistance in getting more clarity, gathering some courage and receiving some support in having these type of conversations or in any area of your life; consider scheduling an Intuitive Counseling Session

Contact me at info@elanakilkenny.com to book your session. In-person sessions are available in my tranquil space in NYC and Skype sessions are available worldwide.