When we are defeated, we hang our heads, in pain, or in shame. Our shoulders slump, our throats become closed off, and we inhibit our ability to speak and verbalize, and things can feel pretty dire. When we are proud and energized, we feel light. Our chins lift, we can speak clearly and use our voice effectively.
Some of the trappings of everyday life even lend to us taking this defeated shape. We sit at desks with our shoulders rounded forward. We stare into our phones with our heads down. Perhaps you’re sitting this way as you read this now.
After a recent conversation with my coach Jacki Carr about using my voice, she sent me this excerpt:
“…so what blocks us from expressing our truth, our outrage, our creativity, or our needs? What makes us close down the throat, bottling up the emotions, or annihilate our ideas before they can make it out of our mouth? What makes us hide behind silence?
Shame at the core, fear for one’s safety, or simply being out of touch with the core self make us unable to bring the inside of ourselves out to meet the world.”
- Anodea Judith, Eastern Body, Western Mind
Whoa: "out of touch with the core self" really hits home for me. For a few years, I felt like I wasn’t being my full self. I had a few experiences that left me disheartened and rocked my confidence and didn't notice how much it was impacting how I was showing up. During this time, I still created a lot of opportunities for me to use my voice and yet I never fully stepped up. I often chickened out of saying the bold things that rang true for me. What if they don't like what I have to say?
Even from a young age, I never really felt a deep sense of self. I have been known to be adaptable, perhaps at my own expense. A skillful chameleon. I get choked up easily. When I feel shame, I get a lump in my throat and shut down. My communication isn't clear and I am not able to express myself clearly. So it didn't surprise me when I found actual lump in my throat in 2016. Call it "woo-woo", but here's what I believe: your body manifests what your mind and spirit are experiencing.
It turns out I had a golf ball-sized growth on my thyroid gland that had been growing for years. Thankfully it was benign and I had it removed this past summer.
Now that the actual physical block has been removed, I feel more empowered than ever to use my voice to speak what's true for me. Part of my recovery from surgery involves massaging my scar, lifting my chin high and proud to stretch through the front of my neck to prevent any further tightness. With the new sensation from my incision, I have a constant reminder to lift my chin and stand proud. It's a simple but effective way to, shift perspective, become present and remember to use my voice.
Right now, wherever you are, lift your chin and your gaze, feel the space it opens up. Breathe a little deeper, take a look around you, and feel your energy and your mood shift. See, it's not so dire.