The biggest transformations a human being goes through are in the first three years of life.

Arguably, the largest of these transformations is learning to communicate.

We recognise tones and words before we speak… but when we discover the ability to make our wishes known through the power of pointing, smiling, crying, hand signals, and eventually (for most) words!!!!

The world lights up and suddenly we have power in it.

My 17 month old niece has been saying “Yes” for ages now and would answer yes to most questions… but a month ago she and her parents discovered the liberty and ease of life that comes with more clarity, the power of having a real choice, the power of Erin finding her voice… The power of “No.”

She now has the ability not just to understand, but to be understood. She knows what she wants and can convey it with clarity, confidence and conviction…

Do you want a banana?

No.

Biscuit?

No.

Yogurt?

Yes peas.

The Power of Play

You put a lot of effort in to finding your voice, learning how to match the thoughts in your head to the sounds you hear others saying, then forming words through the complex combination of tongue, teeth, lips and breath.

As a child you played with that thought/word/voice combination getting it right and getting it wrong. Then, just as you started getting really good at expressing yourself, you started learning that having the power of a voice comes with restrictions… you can’t just cry whenever you like and get attention, there are rules around self-expression.

“Please.”

“Thank you.”

“Don’t interrupt”

“Wait till I’ve finished”

“Not now”

“OK. Now, what did you want?”

It’s likely that not long after discovering your voice, you started moderating it.

Different people react and respond to this growth in different ways, your own innate nature, balanced with what you observe around you, affect how ‘safe’ you feel it is to express yourself.

These lessons went with you in to nursery school, and school – as you explored and played more, discovering your inner voice – learning what you like and don’t like, what you believe in and don’t, what you’re willing to put up with and not.

Your voice is not just what you say, it’s what you believe, feel, have an opinion on. You don’t just share your voice through speaking either, it’s reflected in what and how you write, and through your actions.

As you grew, this inner voice became reflected in your choices, the people you decided to hang out with, the music and clothes you like, the petitions you signed and protests you went on, or didn’t.

These later growth years, starting around age 10 now, are where you start to become aware that others will make judgements on what you say and do, and you probably started monitoring your self-expression.

This is our primitive brain at work, if you don’t fit in, you might get thrown out of the tribe, and that leaves you vulnerable, so it’s safer to agree or merge with those around you.

We go through life learning from others, and our voice changes with time. The vehement ‘right & wrong’ beliefs of the 17 year old you seem naïve to 40 year old you, who knows that life comes in many shades of grey.

However, sometimes, depending both on your nature and the situations you have found yourself in, you may have found that YOUR voice (your thoughts, opinions, ideas, feelings) have become squashed, suppressed, or moderated, to survive or thrive in the environments in which you have found yourself, and that there are situations in which you limit, or restrict, your self-expression.

For some people this is when public speaking, for others it’s raising your hand in a team meeting, or saying ‘No’ to something you don’t want to do

This is because all speaking is ‘public’ speaking – it’s making your inner thoughts – public.

Ripples and Waves of Transformation

Has your voice diminished, or got lost somewhere along the way?

Under all the roles and hats you wear for others, you may even find yourself wondering what or where your voice is at all.

I’m not saying that we should never adapt or moderate our words or actions, sometimes it is appropriate; however, finding your voice took a lot of effort very early on in life – is it time to take some time to find YOUR voice again?

When you are confident in expressing your thoughts, ideas, feelings, beliefs, opinions – when you share your voice, through whatever medium that takes for you, it’s amazing how much you can transform not only yourself, but also the lives of those around you.

If you want to make ripples in your world, well, words make waves – so is it time to re-discover YOUR voice and speak?

Guest Blog by Judith Quin

Vocal Confidence Specialist, Sound Healer & Public Speaking Coach. Find out more on her website Your Whole Voice and follow her on social media: FacebookInstagramTwitter.