I'm my own harshest critic.
I underestimate the value of a well-chosen environment. I know just how to undermine my innate sense of power. I seem to be working against self-emancipation, and often lapse into autopilot – dimly aware of the life force draining out of me.
Do any of the above ring discordantly true for you? You're not alone, but you're in luck. Why? Well, aside from being in this together, any of the following golden five vocal gifts are just a conscious sigh away. These five gifts are ready opportunities for immediate vocal enjoyment, and, over time, more fundamental well-being.
So, if you could use a ready toolkit for good vibrations, watch this episode, read the blog below and unwrap Five Gifts for Your Voice!
THE FIVE-SPOKED GOLDEN WHEEL OF DEEP VOCAL OPTIMISATION
During the course of our daily experience, we can feel drained, tense, enfeebled, or trapped. Unfortunately, rather than take that good medicine our soul is craving, we tend to dose ourselves with self-loathing. We get stuck, but it doesn't have to be that way. Self-love, safety, agency, freedom, and humanity are all elixirs, both for our voices and for the tap roots of our fundamental well-being. These are the golden five – beautiful vocal upgrades which lubricate the wheel of the good life, for a more confident, joyous, ebullient, free and fun you!
The Dalai Lama believes that kindness and compassion give rise to self-confidence. However, our conditioning can force us to forget how good it feels to first extend that loving attitude to ourselves. Disclaimer: beating yourself up is not a virtue! In fact, the habit of self-loathing makes it harder to spread the good vibes.
You say: "I ramble on, I'm not clear enough, my voice sounds weird and I don't like the way I look."
Yet I see you, beautiful person, speak with absolute clarity and perfect imperfection. Self-love is acknowledging the degree to which we are brutally self-critical, out of habit or because we think it gets us karmic points. Self-love is noticing when we criticize and shame ourselves (either in our heads or out loud to others). When this happens, take a deep breath, sigh "Ah ha" and course correct the self-annihilating narrative. In fact, let's double down on this: when someone you know is running a narrative of self-hate, gently guide them towards self-love.
This way, we can soften our hearts, and bring in some healing. Practise the connection between heart awareness, kindness and self-confidence – notice the beautiful things that happen when you course correct in the direction of self-love.
The practice of self-love can only be deepened and extended in a safe environment. The most skilled healers I work with demonstrate time and time again that safety is a crucial prerequisite for healing, joy and spontaneity. Make a list of the types of environments in which you feel completely safe (both within your home and outside it), and schedule some 'me time' during which you can become absorbed in your own sense of safety. It could be as simple as finding an early morning hour to contemplate or daydream without disruption in your favourite room, or as wild as spending some time in a cabin in the woods. The point is to make a ritual out of it, and to consciously make a date with yourself where you honour and reenforce your safety in the world.
Why does agency, or lack thereof, loom so large? Well, to various degrees, it was chipped away at throughout our childhoods. We all experienced a litany of micro-traumas whereupon our nervous systems were overwhelmed. "I can"; "I'm powerful"; "I can change this", gave way to "I'm helpless." So, as adults, we need to notice the "I can't" feeling, and the frozenness or paralysis that comes with it; thus we begin the process of recovering our agency. Agency is the practice of listening to and acting against what is intuitively not right for you.
From another angle, agency is making a habit of believing "I can. I can change anything. I can overcome powerlessness and helplessness. I can return to a nervous system that feels powerful". Yet, it means different actions for different people. You might need to practise saying "No" to other people. Or "I don't like this." Someone else might need to practise being more of a 'yes' person! It's all about learning to notice, express and act from the stable awareness of our discomfort – with loved ones, friends or associates; in groups or one on one.
Instead of taking your social cues from what everybody else is doing, or what is expected of you, take a breath and find your voice of authentic resistance. It can be tricky though, because it often masquerades as "There must be something wrong with me." Remember that your agency grows with the practice of listening to your body, and giving your body what it's asking for. It's challenging because acting from agency sometimes means doing the opposite of what you normally would do – be it backing away or wholly embracing. Tune in to the hidden alchemy of uncomfortable stirrings in difficult situations and your agency will grow.
Freedom is not the absence of responsibility, but giving yourself permission to be messy, imperfect and crazy. Take it from the kids: are they not wild, weird and supremely chaotic in their movements and vocalisations? Observe the whacky ballet of childhood, its improvised choir. Then remember that the spirit of your childhood still lies in waiting within you. When we become too robotic, or too perfect, we are also perfectly bored, overly domesticated creatures. Dare yourself to make one of your safe spaces a rewilding space. Because in the forest, or the field, noone can see or hear you squeal and dance. Practising child-like freedom is our means of bursting the bolts and casting off the shackles of our adult robot suits, and restoring our sense of humanity.
Unfortunately, pretending that we're always okay; perfect, or trying to appear perfect has become more de rigour than perhaps ever before. This is possibly because of the relentless standard of perfection displayed in the curated profiles of social media influencers. The trouble is with a perfection mindset that the very essence of our humanity is throttled. As Leonard Cohen sonorously croaked: "There is a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in." Your imperfections, as much as your innate talents, make you more, not less, beautiful to others. If you're not messing up, you're not learning, and to not learn is to not grow. Wear a silly hat, practise revelling in rather than contracting over your missteps. Perfectionism is the death of our joy, and stifles creativity. You'll know if you're 'mastering' imperfection when you catch yourself laughing at yourself. It might surprise you how socially contagious your imperfection can be – people will feel safer in your company.
LOOSENING THE GRIP
To conclude, as we release our tight grip on life, listen to and live from heart – dance more, sing together, fall with one another – our well-being and confidence grows. We find ourselves celebrating, sharing in the joy and the pain of it all. And that's the best we can do. So, remember to sing the gifts of the five-spoked golden wheel: self-love, safety, agency, freedom, and humanity. Notice how they transform your capacity to express yourself vocally.
And please let me know which of the five touched you the most? Did any of them present a struggle? Send me an email, drop a comment, or message me. Your feedback means a lot to me!