When You Talk, is it YOU Actually Speaking?
Strange question, right? It sounds almost rhetorical. But, it isn’t. Because the voices we use in life—the roles we adopt—are rarely from our core selves. We say things we don’t really mean, deep down. We avoid saying things we do believe, but worry will cost us prestige or cause us to be scorned. We pursue goals we don’t really treasure, in our heart of hearts. We maintain interpersonal connections when we know those relationships aren’t good for us. We shy away from relationships out of fear, when they could be transformational.
Using your real voice, anchored deep and firmly in your very soul is the work of a lifetime. It is the ultimate journey, and it goes a long way to reducing anxiety and alleviating low mood. That’s because anxiety and depression are often fueled by the underlying sense that we are not speaking with our own voices—that we are playing a roles, not living authentic lives.
How does this happen—this speaking in other voices? We get scared. We worry that we won’t be loved by parents if we say what we really think as kids. We fear that seeing things for what they really are around us will leave us terrified or paralyzed or alone? We notice that wearing the “right” clothes or having the “right” position or saying the popular things everyone else is will get us invited to the right birthday parties as a kid or the right dinner parties as an adult.
The thing is: Faking won’t work. Speaking in a voice not your own will not only be dispiriting to you; it will ring hollow to others. Because you can’t fake anything in this life. Not really. The whole universe is set up to resonate with the truth.
Can you recapture your voice? Can you own it, once and for all? You can. It will take some work, but nothing like the work it is to try to “act” like a character you are not and have others not notice.
You can begin by voicing one firmly-held opinion that you have believed “for the longest time.” You can begin by buying a single canvas to start painting. You can begin by reading those books you’ve been meaning to, “since you can remember.” You can sign up for a course. You can call a friend you love, but haven’t seen.
You can also just get quiet. Meditate. Use fewer words and listen more. Engage in a healing relationship with a psychiatrist or psychologist or life coach who you can speak freely to, from your core. The tide of self will come rolling in. It has to. It has been waiting for you to take down the dam in its way.
Dr. Keith Ablow
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