Can we talk about my fear of using my voice? I have been learning about it, lately.
My lesson began while I was working on an essay that talked my ability to speak up. I had trouble because I hadn’t explored the issue enough myself.
As I contemplated this, I was given the push that I needed.
I watched a youtube video on a controversial subject—racism against Japanese-Americans. As a Japanese-American, I thought I had some insight to add to the discussion, and I added it.
This terrified me. I didn’t want to offend the video makers, whose channel I like and watch regularly. I didn’t want to get dragged into some online flame-war. Most of all, I didn’t want to be targeted as being a subversive person who goes against mainstream (i.e. white) opinions.
I rarely ever comment on videos, at all, and never on controversial subjects. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t act like my voice wasn’t worth the battle.
My ego rattled its cage doors for a day or so, and this made me miserable. Then, I saw it. If I wanted to understand my relationship with my voice better, this was my opportunity.
Instead of worrying about that particular situation, I turned my attention to my limiting beliefs about my voice. The two main ones were:
- If I can’t communicate a perfect message, then I shouldn’t communicate, at all.
- If my perspective will cause conflict, then it isn’t worth saying.
I’m sure you can imagine the number of times I’ve tortured myself over the first one, considering how often human beings communicates imperfect messages. I do it constantly, and beat myself up about it constantly.
Ironically, I have also spent a lot of time wondering why I’m so frustrated that I rarely feel heard.
To illustrate how insidious limiting beliefs can be, I will also mention that the only reason I noticed these patterns because I broke them. The fear and anxiety that I felt from doing something different showed me that I had been stuck in a pattern.
To heal these limiting beliefs, I tried to go back to the first time I started feeling fear and anxiety about offering my perspective. This goes back to my childhood (where most of our wounds originate).
We moved to a new state the summer before my sixth grade year. That move landed me closer to my extended family and a whole bunch of cousins that were around my age. Before the move, I lived in an urban area, I went to a huge school with big classes, and I was often lost in the crowd.
The new place was rural with a small population. My extended family was a clan that accounted for everyone. We had safety in numbers, and I was being acknowledged as a person.
But, then I had to go to school. My new school was small. It took me a long time to wrap my head around the knowledge that there were twenty kids in my entire grade. I did not get lost in the crowd, I was the crowd.
My voice box erupted. I was enthusiastic about my cousins and my new environment. I needed to express that. I felt more comfortable in a smaller class, so I expressed it constantly. I chatted the ear off of the wrong person, and she criticized me to the other girls. That’s how sixth graders handle it, you know.
Pretty soon I was ostracized for being an annoying person who talks too much. This is when I learned the danger of a small class. In my old, big school, if something went wrong with one group of kids, a kid could simply find another group. In a small school, that wasn’t the case.
My alienation probably only lasted a week or so, but, for me, the lesson stuck. As quickly as I had opened up, I closed down again. After that, I only spoke when absolutely necessary, especially around my classmates.
This is only one of many wounds surrounding my voice, but when I asked myself about the first time I felt fear and anxiety for using my voice, this event stepped forward.
To work on it further, I did Reiki on my Throat Chakra—the chakra associated with self-expression. In doing this, I was struck with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for the voice that I’ve had so far in this world. It has expressed my needs when I’ve really needed them. It’s helped me express my feelings. It’s spoken up to protect me. It has done all of this despite its wounds—pushing forward through the pain and trauma.
It was a powerfully healing experience, but I’m still working on it. I’ve started commenting more online as part of my therapy.
This is not uncommon. I have observed trauma around their voices of many. Some people can’t express their opinions, even more often, they can’t express their feelings, or they feel creatively blocked.
What about you? How do you feel about using your voice? What are your limitations?
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