One of the most frequent questions I get asked is, “How do I find my voice?” As a coach, it’s been wonderful and paradoxical to help people find something that is impossible to lose. But I will say, it gets blocked off all the time. We get hypnotized away from our own voice. We pretend we aren’t ourselves. Myself included.
It reminds me of a Rumi quote that I just love, “You wander from room to room searching for the diamond necklace that is already around your neck!” Rumi makes this process sound so obvious, but it’s easier said than done. It’s okay to spend time wandering, in fact it’s usually an amazing journey of discovery.
Furthermore, in the age of blogging and self-publishing, now more than ever, audiences are hungry for authentic new voices. We are living in an age, where you are rewarded for being open and honest. Yet, when we sit down in front of the blank page, it’s good to have a process to move through. Here are some steps:
1. Let go of Judgment
To begin with, criticizing early work is a lot like heckling a one-year-old while learning to walk. It’s ridiculously unhelpful, and yet we all fall into that trap. It would be nice to simply turn off that inner critic off, but not everybody can.
Often nasty habits we learn as children make us recoil when express ourselves. This comes out in the form of perfectionism, conformity, insecurity or any other barrage of judgment that’s forced on us through traditional education. I’m a teacher, so I’ve been reflecting on this a lot lately.
One way to move through this torrent of judgment is to recognize the pattern and call it by its name. How is it that you criticize yourself? Some people berate themselves for being too unique, too dark, not good enough, etc. See if you can pinpoint your pattern.
I’ve named my pattern “Never Never.” I’m always terrified that my goals are completely unrealistic. It’s easier now that I’ve recognized the pattern. And, as it happens, this judgment was actually my strength. What I thought was impossible turns out not only to be possible, but necessary.
The same is true for you. Your darkness might be the light you bring to others through resonance. Your perfectionism and originality might just be the raw authenticity that people really need.
2. Get into Conversation
An interesting thing about the throat chakra is that it involves not just the speaking organs, but the ears as well. Finding your voice isn’t just about speaking, it’s about listening. It’s impossible to find your voice in a vacuum. That’s why people get so intimidated by the blank page.
We’re never alone. Writers are readers, listeners, and interpreters for the world around them. The process of finding your voice receives jet fuel through stimulation and even agitation. Rather than searching for your voice, try to find a book you’ve read or a person you’ve met that makes you want to spew all your crazy ideas onto the page.\
If you’re writing a self-help book, this conversation happens with the people you are serving. If you’re writing fiction, this conversation is strengthened by other authors, past and present. If you’re writing blogs or essays, this conversation will be spurred by interactions with opinions you feel strongly about.
However, this step might bring up all new judgments. The most common are intimidation and jealousy. When you start interacting with other’s writing, you start comparing yourself to them. Recognize this pattern, just as you did in the last step. Turn it inside out. Turn intimidation into admiration and jealousy into ambition. Let it increase your growth.
3. Set Easy Goals
In order to secure the growth and development of your beautiful emerging voice, set easy goals. You haven’t come this far only to berate yourself for writing enough. Keep judgment at bay. Nurture your voice into health by setting achievable goals and celebrating them frequently.
If your next step fills you with dread, find a way to make it fun again. Nagging yourself to do things that you can’t seem to accomplish won’t get you where you want to go. Shrink your actions into little bites, and make them as decadent as possible.
At every step of the journey, finding your voice is about transforming judgment into pride, transforming silence into conversation, and transforming dread into delight. I will be eager to hear if any of these steps work for you! Try this out and leave a comment below.