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By Karen Casanovas
For Senior Voice 

You are not hearing what I am saying


September 1, 2022 | View PDF

Q: When I am with others, I occasionally feel dismissed and that my point of view doesn’t matter. How do I get others to listen to what I have to say?

A: When we are with others that are of different life experiences, disparate thought, clashing opinions, or diverse age groups, our voice can feel marginalized. We can feel powerless or relegated to an unimportant position. If an individual or group identifies that they are not accepted, due to unequal status, privilege, opportunity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, geographic location, ethnicity, religion, displacement or power, that is marginalization.

Every person should have a fair opportunity to be heard and to share their opinion no matter who or where they are. To give others who are vulnerable or disadvantaged, and may feel excluded, the power to believe their opinions and rights are valued at the same priority as others provides opportunities for communities, organizations or families to ensure no one is excluded.

What actions are needed?

‘Holding agency’ is the sense of control you have over your own life. The power to face conflict, affect change, and having the ability to influence your future embraces personal agency. Noted Stanford University professor of psychology Albert Bandura, a leader on agency and self-efficacy research, stated in his talk “The Psychology of Human Agency” that people act as agents who intentionally regulate their behavior and life circumstances. They are self-organizing, proactive, self-regulating, and self-reflecting. “They are producers of their life circumstances and not just the products of them.”

Bandura goes on to say that we are also capable of influencing others to affect change. Therefore, if you are experiencing marginalization, new world realities provide opportunities for us to exercise greater control over interactions with others and how you live your life.

We can start by listening and being present for those that face marginalization, especially due to gender, age, location, religious, sexual identify or disability. Challenge social barriers that deny people opportunity or limit their potential. Build inclusive and open communities, systems, workplaces, where everyone is held accountable.

Stray away from negative thinking or unsupportive interactions as much as possible. Surround yourself with those who support your values and beliefs, resulting in improving your state of mind, and developing your sense of agency.

Agency is the power we have to steer our lives in the direction we want to go. To use our agency, we have to become familiar with its four helpers, or aspects.

According to professor Bandura, there are four helpers which can assist you in achieving your goals of being heard:

Intentionality. You must make a proactive commitment to take action to change your life or your environment. You are not letting others around you force your actions – you are choosing to act and take control.

Forethought. Forethought helps you to visualize the future and set goals for yourself. It allows you to motivate yourself and to guide your actions in anticipation of future events.

Self-reactiveness. You have the ability to act on your plans and monitor your progress, plus make a course correction if you stray. Self-reactiveness means that once you have intention and a plan, you cannot sit back and wait for the results to appear, but must be deliberate in acting toward reaching your goals.

Self-reflection. Allows you to think about and evaluate your motives, values and life goals. Self-reflection lets you address any conflicts in your motivations and choose to act in favor of one over the other.

Together with its four helpers, agency provides choice in the direction your life will take, helps you influence others to hear your voice or affect changes in your life, and gives you opportunities to work with others to change lives locally and globally.

Karen Casanovas is a professional healthy aging coach in Alaska. Contact her through her website,


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