Finding our voice is a journey for many of us especially as we are taught to annunciate our words at school, we even develop our accent thanks to the region we grow up in, but do we ever learn to communicate consciously? How do we speak with our actions?
In spiritual terms, when we learn about our throat chakra, we discover that it’s the centre for communication, expression and listening. When it’s balanced, we speak with a strong resonant voice. We don’t need to shout in order to be heard and we don’t need to speak over someone in order to get our point across.
The tendency to over explain or to speak in a rushed manner comes from a fear of not being heard or validated. Similarly, the predisposition to speak softly and in half finished sentences comes from a place of feeling inferior and unworthy.
Our western society labels people who have loud booming voices as strong personality types, yet a strong personality wouldn’t feel compelled to interrupt someone else or talk incessantly about themselves or their opinion. A balanced individual would be gracious enough to want to hear another’s point of view, for the act of listening is a huge part of communicating.
We’ve all had a flatmate, mother, father, brother, sister, friend, lover who has come home and spoken about nothing other than themselves, their day or their opinion regardless of whether you’ve asked them or are even interested.
In fact most of us have even had people respond negatively to us asserting our boundaries when politely trying to end the one sided conversation. Our chatterbox friends will either carry on talking or will feign offence at the fact that we have no desire to hear their opinion.
So how do we find our voice?
What do we do when we are torn between being polite yet honoring our need to either speak up or simply not to have to listen to someone’s garble?
Have you ever had a friend that interrupts you when your story has a similar parallel to something that may have happened in her own life.. yet the conversation then becomes solely about their own experience?
Have you ever had a partner that is happy to discuss the issue that may have arisen between you both yet will interrupt incessantly when you speak, invalidate your opinion and is only happy to talk about their own perspective?
Have you experienced the flatmate that comes home and talks incessantly about their boss/colleagues or about common friends they ran into at the gym while you’re trying to work?
One main problem when asserting our need for quiet or self-expression is that we often get caught up in the negative reaction of the other person rather than remaining firm with our own intention. We end up placating the person’s hurt or angry feelings regardless of the fact that they are not taking responsibility for their own actions.
Remaining neutral and true to our beliefs is challenging when we have an emotional connection to someone close to us, but a lot of power comes from a place of non reaction and consistency with our own actions. A few affirmations that worked well with one of my clients were:
“You’ve just interrupted me again when I’ve asked you not to. I’m pausing this conversation and will resume it when you’re calmer”
“It sounds like you need to be heard & validated at a time when I’m really busy. Is there someone else you can call right now?”
Both of these affirmations work well when the action is followed by something consistent with what was just affirmed. Examples are getting up and moving, repeating the request with a more decisive tone and above all not responding to the incessant chatter or personal attack that often follows.
I was tested myself this week when I had stopped at a set of traffic lights and was greeted by a man wanting to clean my window. I repeatedly asked him not to as I had no change to pay him. Unperturbed, he ignored me and carried on cleaning my windshield. In the past I would be overwhelmed with a sense of obligation and would frantically search my car for scraps of coin or money. This time was different.
Upon finishing, he looked at me palm upturned in a gesture of receiving and expectation. When I repeated what I had initially requested, his reaction was verbally abusive and vitriolic. As difficult as it was to be in a seated position with an angry man standing over me and swearing abuse into my face, there was something quite liberating in validating myself and completely ignoring his reaction.
When the lights (finally!) turned green I took off initially feeling a little shaky by his outburst. On previous occasions when I had succumbed to a feeling of obligation, the aftermath was always racked with annoyance for not standing up for my self. While by no means smug this time around – that wasn’t my intention in the least, the feeling of being detached and neutral was still there for me.
How do your actions help you speak? Are you consistent with what you say and what you do? What has been your greatest lesson? Got any tricks that have worked wonders for you?