Attuned Leadership for Women Podcast
Episode 002: Unmasking Your Inner Voice
Breaking Through the Noise for Sustainable Success
Traditional leadership approaches focus on outward skills like team building, but your greatest fulfillment and impact will come from inside-out growth. In this second episode of Attuned Leadership for Women, explore the power of your inner voice and how it can impact your success as a leader and satisfaction in life. Delve into the origin of your inner voice, why it’s often so critical, demanding, so quick to dismiss your achievements, and how to stop it from telling you to override your body’s limits.
Tune in for personal stories, insights, and actionable steps that guide you on how to unmask your unique inner voice and shape it to support you on your journey of impact and fulfillment.
00:00:00 Unmask your inner voice.
00:05:53 Develop body wisdom for self-awareness.
00:11:45 Listen to your body’s messages.
00:17:20 Pay attention to your inner voice.
00:27:23 Unmask your inner voice.
00:28:27 Body wisdom for professional women.
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Prefer to Read? Here’s the transcript!
*Just a heads up – the provided transcript is likely to not be 100% accurate
Leadership so often focuses on the outward skills for things like relating to others and working with teams, but overlooks the power of your own inner voice. In the second episode of Attuned Leadership, we are unmasking your inner voice and creating new skills to break through the noise for sustainable success.
To start today’s show, I have a story to share. Imagine yourself as a young girl full of dreams and aspirations, standing on the crossroads of her potential. She looks ahead, envisions a future where she can forge her own path, reach for the stars, and leave a mark on the world. But even as she takes her first steps, she can feel the invisible weight of expectations settle on her shoulders. It begins as a gentle whisper, carried on the winds of tradition, echoing through generations.
“Be a good girl,” they say. Embrace your nurturing instincts. Prioritize caregiving. And don’t forget to conform to society’s beauty standards. Your worth is often measured by the reflection in the mirror. As she gets older, those whispers turn to commands mixing with doubts and fears. Scripts like, keep going, don’t rest yet. Everyone’s counting on you. Suck it up. Just push through. Repeat on autopilot. She’s not sure what would happen if she just kicked back and took it easy. But the voice gets louder when she even considers it. She wonders, can she have it all? A successful career, personal fulfillment, and the freedom to define her own identity? Or must she sacrifice pieces of herself, conforming to a script that was written long before she was born? And what happens if she challenges that voice and refuses to prioritize one aspect of her life over another and claims her own form of leadership unapologetically?
Does the experience of this girl sound or feel familiar? I wholeheartedly believe she’s in all of us. Attuned leadership is the path of releasing those identity barriers so that we can live and lead from our true voice. And it is one of the most powerful skills we’ve been learning.
Let me start by saying that we all have an inner voice. The inner voice refers to the internal dialogue or thoughts that we experience within ourselves. It’s the voice we hear in our minds, our thoughts, our beliefs, our opinions, and the self-talk. The inner voice can play a huge role in shaping our emotions, behaviors, and just the overall perception of ourselves and the world around us.
Today, I want to highlight for you, where does this inner voice come from? Why you should care what it’s saying to you and how to influence it so that it can help you be a more effective and fulfilled leader. Your inner voice is unique because it’s influenced by five specific factors that I quickly want to share with you now.
The first is your social and cultural conditioning. That’s the beliefs, values, and norms that shaped your self-perception and inner voice from early childhood, from places like your family, community, and society at large. It’s what’s ingrained in you. And so much of what you may say to yourself inside your head was probably said to you in your early years or modeled.
The second are your personal experiences, and it’s both positive and negative ones. Things like traumatic events, successes and failures and significant life moments. You draw conclusions about these personal experiences and internalize stories about yourself from them that strongly affect the tone and content of your internal dialogue.
Third is education and upbringing. The education you receive and the values it instilled, including messages from parents, teachers and authority figures, can influence your self perception and sense of worth.
Fourth is media and external influences like TV, movies, ads, commercials and social media that shape your perception of beauty, success, gender norms and, you guessed it, your self talk. Personally, I haven’t had cable TV or watched much TV since 2001. Wow. But I want you to know that I have noticed a huge change in my self image and inner voice ever since making that choice.
Fifth and probably the most important one for you to hear from me today, because the other four you would have guessed, right? But the fifth one is the drum roll, your Body Wisdom. And it’s so important because you can develop greater self-awareness and the ability to connect to your body using some pretty simple techniques that will actively shape and modify your inner voice. So that more often it’s bolstering you instead of potentially pushing you past your limits.
The practices I give my clients around this improve things for them like their contentment and energy levels and self-confidence in a really big way. And the inner voice, your inner voice is so important to me because of the power your thoughts have on your physiology.
You see, it doesn’t matter to your body whether an experience is real or perceived. So if you have an idea or a thought or some story is playing inside, it activates your nervous system just like something real just happened, like somebody hit you. So when your brain senses a threat or any stress, it kicks out stress chemicals like cortisol and adrenaline. And those have an effect on every system in your body, including making it harder to focus and will deplete your energy. So whether you’re experiencing a critical or demanding inner voice or you’re just doing something like watching an intense movie or having an intense dream or, you know, dealing like a real life challenge. Like, like almost getting into a car accident. Your brain is responding in the same way.
So over the course of a day, if we are able to influence your inner voice, we can take some of that inner stress on your system away in a way that you actually will notice a difference. And one of the goals of Attuned Leadership is to help you manage your inner voice so you have more control of your nervous system and more awareness of how you spend your time, energy and attention. And when you can differentiate, when you have the skills to discern the difference between what you really want in the moment and what you feel is expected of you, you 10 times your ability to manage things like burnout, increase your capacity and present yourself in any situation with an unflappable presence that gets noticed.
So I want you to zoom in and think specifically about what happens for you in your body with this example. Let’s say you’re feeling overwhelmed and you’re considering canceling a commitment because you know you need more space in your schedule on a scale of zero to 10 with zero being unable and 10 being easily able. How easily do you respond to your personal need and that inner voice that suggests you should make that change when it’s countered to what’s expected of you? So rate yourself first in how easily you could do this in the work setting. So I want to make sure this is really clear. So you notice inside your body there’s attention or feeling overwhelmed. And you have an idea like, wow, if I could cancel that one commitment, it would really make a difference. And then I want you to ask yourself what happens in your body in the moment when it comes to the work setting. How easily can you make that change and cancel the commitment or do you have an internal argument with that inner voice? And then ask yourself, is it the same or different amount of ease for you to do this when it comes to your personal life?
Say a close friend asked you to help her plan a baby shower for her sister and you’ve said yes. And now you’re realizing you’ve really over-committed and you need to make a change. How easily do you do that?
Now, personally, I find I rate myself higher, much higher when it comes to my work life, because I’m very confident and I’m focused and I’m really positioned myself to leverage my strengths. I’d say I’m a nine out of 10 in how easily I can make changes in my life, even when I feel like it’s countered to what’s expected of me. I own my own business. My clients are mostly women. I am calling the shots. I set my goals and I decide how I reach them. I have a lot of agency and autonomy there. But in my personal life, I juggle a lot of roles that to me are a lot more challenging and nuanced things like being a daughter, a wife, a mother, a homeowner, a neighbor, and a friend. And there are so many, like I said, nuances to each of these where the potential for my inner voice to be critical and to jump in and push me to do something that I may not have the capacity for is much higher. So I’d say here I’m a six to seven out of 10 and how easy it is for me to make choices or changes based on what I need, even if it’s in conflict to what others expect.
Now what’s happening on the unconscious level is there’s this whole internal conversation going on evaluating your choices and behaviors on the quote air quotes here, good girl or good woman metric. And I’m happy to report that just a little bit of effort can teach you to unmask that voice so you’re more aware of it, what it’s saying and minimize the effect it has on your physiology and behaviors because of that internal dialogue. Is taking energy from you and I strongly feel that this is a necessary leadership skill to get to where you want to go with less struggle. So let’s dive into how body wisdom can help you with this.
You see, your body is giving you messages all the time, messages for simple things like thirst, hunger, fatigue, needing to go to the bathroom. And often we don’t even respond to those messages. So ask yourself, how well do you respond to those sensations? Do you easily stop what you’re doing or do you tend to ignore them as long as possible, especially if you’re working? Your body is also communicating messages for bigger things like when to say no and when your boundaries been violated and when you’ve over-committed or overwhelmed, like in my example earlier. Can you recall the sensation in your body for what it feels like when it’s communicating those things? And do you have a sense hearing me talk about this? How easily do you respond to those signals from your body?
Most likely, you’re like me when there are some scenarios where you listen and respond amazingly well and others when you don’t. For example, fatigue is one sensation that I will admit I don’t listen to very well. My inner voice will pipe in as soon as something says, oh, you’re tired. Oh, you didn’t sleep well. Oh, you should take a break. And it suggests that I should push through every single time.
Going back to the list of five influences I shared at the beginning of the show, it makes sense, right? Overworking just runs in my family, not just my immediate family, but as far back as I can remember, at least two generations from the stories I’ve been told. And what I’ve discovered over the past 15 years of coaching and studying somatic psychology and women’s studies is that we’ve been conditioned generally not to listen to our bodies. Most women are living from the neck up where they use their brain to control their body versus partnering with the sensations in their body to guide their way.
So if you have difficulty understanding your body’s messages or responding easily to them, it’s OK. That’s more the norm. So don’t feel bad if that’s you. But see it as a huge opportunity, at least in my opinion, it is. I think it’s a good time for us now to dive into another practice to help you get to know your inner voice. If you can, if you’re not driving, go ahead and grab a piece of paper and something to write with. Think of a time recently, like in the past couple of days, when you felt tension about whether or not you should do something or your choice was between what you needed and a second value, like getting work done, for example. Could be as simple as whether to get up and refill your water glass when it’s low or something bigger like whether to reschedule a meeting because you weren’t feeling well. So I’ll give you just a second to think of an example.
Now that you have that, I want you to try to remember what your inner voice was saying at the very moment you were making a decision about whether or not to respond. And if you’re really not sure, then see if you can get a sense of which of these two camps your inner voice was in at that time. Was it option A, where your inner voice was advocating for you to listen to your body and stop what you’re doing and take care of yourself? Or option B, urging you to push through and delay responding to your body’s need? There’s no wrong answer here. One is not better than the other. I just want you to be clear. And maybe deciding what tone your inner voice had in this situation will help you get to the place where you can understand the exact words. Because what most women report is option B, something hearing something like push through, take care of yourself at a later time. This other thing, whatever this is, is more important.
Now, I want you to try to recreate the moment in your in your mind and body. Remember where you were and what was happening around you. Try to replay the experience using your senses to really see if you can identify the specific words that you hear. I believe that we all have patterns and that the inner scripts that we hear in these moments are similar kind of over and over again. Now, let’s call this your script. If you can identify your script. Excellent. That’s awesome. If you’re not driving, please write it down. Word for word, because we’re going to come back to it. And if you’re not sure, just keep listening to the show. And I want that to be your focus as your main takeaway action item is that you’re going to identify that. And again, what most women hear is something like just push through. It can weigh getting this done is more important. Suck it up. You’re the only one that can do this. You have to. And often the words you hear have been a dominant script of your inner voice for a long time, maybe decades. They’re deeply ingrained in your mind and body. They can even be the inner voice of generations of women that came before you, like in the story that I shared at the beginning, passed down to you through your nervous system. So try to be specific so you can really identify these words you hear inside. And that is the first step in being able to release them.
Now, if you wrote down your script, look at them and silently say them inside to yourself, hear your own inner voice saying those words and ask yourself if it sounds familiar. Does the feeling that it provokes feel familiar in your body? Do you feel like this is a script you hear often? And then after you hear that script replay in your mind’s ear, what does it cause in your body? What sensations do you feel as you hear those words? Is there stress or tension? Do you feel pressure? Do the words of your inner script feel supportive and nurturing? Maybe you feel a softening and a release. As I said, there’s no wrong answer here. This is your assignment.
Decide right now to pay very close attention every time you hear the script that you wrote down. I want you to commit to noticing when you hear these words inside and start to make a big deal about it when it shows up in your daily life. It should feel to you after listening to today’s show, like there’s an alarm going off that grabs your attention, shakes your shoulders and says, hey, there it is. There’s that script. Pay attention, tune in. I’m going to give you an example.
One of the scripts my inner voice uses often is “this is more important.” So if I’m out of water and think to myself, oh, I should get up and go fill my cup, this inner voice will respond and say, no, keep going. This is more important. And the word this is almost always referring to some sort of work. And that means, you know, it doesn’t really show up as much when I’m with my kids or I’m delighting in nature or I’m doing something creative. No, it always says that work is the most important thing. But when I stop and think about it, I know that’s not true and that it’s not my true voice. I know what my values are. And while I love my work, it’s not my top value. Those other things I listed are.
Unmasking your inner voice is important because it’s a phenomenon happening inside you that goes undetected if you don’t pay attention and it’s powerful enough to override your ability to listen to your body or for you to take action on things that are actually important to you.
Do you remember how I introduced you to the phrase the Perfection Paradox in the first episode? It’s the unconscious conditioning that women face to meet high social standards to be pretty, quiet, kind, nurturing. And because I’m from the deep south, I like to throw in obedient and selfless to the mix. But in my work, I believe the Perfection Paradox is to blame for the struggles you face as a woman, not you. And it’s the source of the inner critical voice that pushes you to override your body’s limits. It’s that internalized pressure to fulfill the gender norms at home and work. And it’s so great that it silences your inner voice’s ability to really acknowledge your personal needs and your achievements.
I can’t tell you how many women I’ve worked with that at the end of a full, busy week, they still would feel like they didn’t get enough done instead of seeing how incredible the work that they completed was and just seeing the total impact of everything that they did. So if you’re working on this and wondering, is the voice I’m hearing my authentic voice or is it this internalized Perfection Paradox? Well, just ask yourself, like, what are your top three values in your life right now?
One of mine is related to my health and well-being, and it’s to feel vibrant. So when I’m having tension about whether or not I should do something like stop working and refill my water or go to bed on time or eat nourishing food. Well, I know it’s not my true voice, my authentic voice, and that I really need to pay attention and respond wisely. And that’s how you can know if the script you’re hearing is authentic or not. We all have these competing interests that require our time, energy and attention. And how well you show up as a leader at work and home is based on how discerning you are at differentiating those competing interests and your inner voice so that you can prioritize what actually matters. And from what I’ve seen in my practice for many women, our true voice has been silenced so long that it’s actually really hard to know what it’s saying. It’s hard to know what I actually need and what I actually want. That’s what I’ve seen over and over again. And the steps that I’m giving you are intentional and specific, and they will change that.
So here’s the homework one more time, because I want to make sure that this is crystal clear. Here’s the example. You’re doing something in your daily life and you realize you’re in a moment of tension. There’s some sort of conflict inside you between what you want and what’s being expected of you or demeaned of you. And you listen to your inner voice in that moment. And if you hear the script that you’ve identified and wrote down, then you stop what you’re doing and you tune into yourself and you acknowledge, oh, there was that script. You use the skill I taught you in episode one, which if you missed, I highly recommend you go back and listen to that. You get perspective on the context of your situation and how it relates to the script your inner voice is saying. And most likely it’s pushing you into productivity because the context is that you’ve probably always gotten validation and acceptance in the past from what you do instead of who you are. So you say something like, oh, OK, that’s the pattern for me. That’s when the script shows up. No surprises here. This was predictable. And when you can call it out like that, like, of course, inner voice, you show up in this way in this moment because I’m in conflict between these two decisions. That’s what you do. So you acknowledge the inner voice and the script that it’s having, but you don’t accept it and just listen to it. You’re not obeying it. And in my example, I could respond with, yeah, I know there’s more work to do, but I need water and I’m going to take less than one minute to go get it. And I could take it one step further from that and be intentional and compassionate in response to my inner voice. So I don’t have to respond to be snarky or silence that inner voice that’s telling me not to get my water. I could call out why it’s there. I like to treat mine like a character that’s trying to protect me and trying to keep me safe and trying to make sure that I’m accepted. And I might say something like, hey, thanks for trying to keep me on task. I know you’re looking out for me. And doing that counters the stress chemicals that that script would normally release in your body and helps break down the pattern at the same time.
Now, I want to take a second here because I can sense you as you’re listening. I want to interrupt to say that this is based on neuroscience and psychology. All, you know, as woo as this may sound, it’s not. It’s how the brain works and something that I’ve been studying for my entire career. You’ll break free from the patterns of thinking and behaving that hold you back one experience at a time until it’s no longer there. Literally, every time you run through this sequence, identifying the script, toggling out and seeing why it may be there in this moment, asking your body what you really need, being compassionate to your inner voice and then following through on what’s authentic for you in the moment. You change your brain wiring so that your critical inner voice no longer has that control. And it’s so liberating.
The last action step after you follow through with your true inner voice, like when I get up and refill my glass of water, is to take a moment and notice the effect that that has on you inside your body. So in this case, I could take a sip of water and I could realize that it’s cool as it goes down my throat and that I enjoy that experience and that I was thirsty, and that I’m glad I got up to fill the cup. And it just takes a second to be in my body. But it makes a big difference because I am teaching my brain that when I go against the inner voice that’s trying to protect me, I actually have a positive outcome.
As we wrap up, I want to say that the executive women, business owners, professionals and entrepreneurs that I’ve coached privately are brilliant, skilled, so highly respected, and experienced in what they do. They have every reason to wake up every morning proud to look in the mirror and celebrate the impact they’ve made on their organizations and communities every single day. But the Perfection Paradox spares nobody. The higher up you go, actually, the more pressure you face, the higher the stakes, the more your inner voice wants to dictate what you say, what you do and how others perceive you, making it even more challenging for your authentic voice to be easily heard.
The takeaway from today’s show is that you can break through the noise, you can unmask your inner voice and you can connect to your Body Wisdom for better decision-making, developing your gut instincts, strengthening your self-trust so you know how to present yourself even when it feels challenging because you may be going against the grain. And it starts with this deeper listening, hearing the words your inner voice is saying and responding appropriately with power and intention, compassionately to yourself, no matter how small.
In fact, I’m encouraging you with the homework practice that I’ve given you to start small, just like in my empty water glass example. Find the simple tensions throughout your day to experiment with and apply this practice. And for now, I just want to repeat that I believe you can rewrite the rules of success and satisfaction as a woman.
I hope you enjoyed today’s episode about how unmasking your inner voice takes you one step closer to that. Repeat this practice and you’ll see tangible results. And I would love to hear about those results. Connect with me on Instagram @drcrystalfrazee and share your experience with this. I’ll put all my handles in the show notes.
If you enjoyed the episode, I would love for you to subscribe on your favorite player so you have the show delivered directly to you so you aren’t wasting any time searching for it. Leaving a review is the most supportive way to help a new show get discovered. And I’m on a mission to connect with professional women and help them navigate the invisible challenges they face and that traditional approaches overlook so we get ahead with less effort.
In upcoming episodes, I’ll share how developing body wisdom is the foundation for presence, visibility and recognition. Come along the journey with me and I’ll guide you to take calculated risks with confidence, pursue ambitious goals knowing you won’t push past your own limits and break free from limitations about who you need to be to really be successful. Thanks so much for listening in.