You are your voice
How Emotions Affect Your Voice and The Power of Self-Acceptance
Have you heard the phrase, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it that matters” before? And have you ever noticed how your voice changes when you feel certain emotions? Like how different your voice sounds when you’re angry, happy or sad? We all know the feeling of words getting stuck in our throats when our emotions are high, but what can we do about it?
As humans, we’re emotional creatures. Our emotions influence not only our minds, but also our bodies. They create chemical reactions and trigger body memory patterns, which significantly affect our voice. And this is where the healing power of self-acceptance becomes very important in the way we express ourselves.
Where Emotions Arise & How This Affects Our Sound
I’m going to go a little scientific on you here but please bear with me! After reading what I share it will help you to better understand yourself and your voice 🙂
Emotions in The Body
The place in the body where most emotions emerge is called the limbic system. When an emotion is activated here, a chain reaction takes place which causes nerve signals to tell the body how to physically behave. If we’re angry that chain reaction might involve a spike of adrenaline, a tightening in the chest and sweaty palms. In contrast, if we’re happy it might involve muscle relaxation, an opening of the chest area and a sense of ease.
Emotions & Sound Production
Every emotion is different and causes a slightly different experience in our body. But the thing is, as our voice is produced by our body, any emotional reaction going on in the body directly affects how we’re able to express ourselves. This can be super frustrating!
You see, all the nerve signals related to whatever emotion we’re feeling at any time are transmitted back to the muscles that control our voice. They’re relayed to our breathing system as well as to our jaw, neck, shoulders, tongue and larynx (where our vocal folds live). Everything is connected. So that means if we have stress in the body, we have stress on our voice. If we have tension in our jaw because we’re a little angry, or a tightness in our chest because we’re anxious, our voice will be affected.
Emotions & Self-Expression
As I said, the effect emotions have on our voice can be super frustrating. This is especially true for situations which trigger our emotions and where wish to express ourselves in a specific way, but end up sounding totally different. Can you relate to either of these situations:
You need to give a presentation to senior management at work, and you want to sound powerful and convincing during it. You’ve prepared all the material and have gone through your speech many times. The night before the presentation, you mentally go through everything sentence again, visualizing exactly how you want to sound and the effect you want to have. The next day comes, and you begin your presentation, but instead of speaking confidently like you imagined you would, your voice begins to shake and your pitch rises. Your hands sweat, your heart feels like it’s going to break through your chest, and your voice sounds very small.
You want to talk to your partner about a problem in the relationship. It’s something you’re uncomfortable to speak about, so you go through what you want to say, and how you’d like to say it, in your head beforehand. But despite your preparations, when you begin speaking your voice doesn’t come out sounding the way you wanted it to. Instead, you have the exact opposite experience to what you wanted. Your knees feel like jelly, your voice sounds brittle and it gets stuck in your throat. Instead of speaking your truth and sharing what you needed to share, you swallow back the words and pretend what you wanted to say wasn’t important.
Emotions & How You Speak
No matter what you want to say, emotions govern how that is going to come out. Mechanically emotions effect:
- The pitch you express yourselves in
- The speed you say things at
- The melody you use when speaking
- The amount of strength or weakness heard in your voice
- How you use your breath when you’re speaking
- The way you articulate and emphasize the words you use
- And, despite your best planing, even the words you choose to say!
Self-Acceptance is The Key to Vocal Freedom
Self-acceptance is a long process that can be intimidating at times. It means to accept every facet of your being, everything that makes you who you are and all the things that brought you to this point in your life. It also means to accept not only the outer circumstances of your life, but also everything going on in your inner world, now. Your thoughts. Your feelings. All of it. I know how challenging this can be, but it’s necessary. If we fail to practice self-acceptance, we effectively disown parts of ourselves, causing disruptions within.
As your voice is a part of you, anytime you fail to own who you are in this moment, you take power away from your voice. You effectively shut down apart of it, as you shut down a part of yourself.
When We Don’t Accept Ourselves, This Happens
Not accepting ourselves means being unable to accept our thoughts and feelings in the present moment. I’ve experienced this at times when I felt like I had to feel a certain way towards a situation, when in reality I was repressing my true feelings. The thing is, in some way or another the emotions we hold back will come out whether we like it or not! I see this in myself when I feel angry at someone, but rather than constructively sharing that anger with them, I try to keep my voice calm and not show what I’m feeling inside.
But what happens is that my voice ends up shaking from the anger. I then feel frustrated because I wasn’t able to control the sound of my voice in that moment and hide my anger. And this frustration then leads to a split being caused within me, which further impacts my voice. Often it makes my voice break, causing me to not be able to express myself at all. Then I feel incredibly frustrated, shut down and sad, leading to even more frustration and the cycle continues!
Vocal Freedom comes through Correct Technique & Self-Acceptance
An important lesson I’ve learned through years of singing and practicing mindfulness is how crucial self-acceptance is for achieving vocal freedom. By accepting ourselves and our emotions at every moment in time, we become whole. Our emotions will start to impact us positively, energising and enlivening our voice. The act of self-acceptance is a truly nurturing practice which has only positive benefits when we speak or sing.
Using Emotions as Food for Your Voice
Next, I want to show you a voice exercise from my online courses. It will allow you to actively use your emotions as a source of energy for your voice, whether for speaking or singing.
- Begin by sitting in a comfortable place with no disturbances.
- Close down your eyes and turn your attention within. Focus on your breath. Observe the rhythm of your breath as it moves in and out of your body.
- Now focus on what you’re feeling in this moment. Don’t try to influence it. Just be aware of it and let it exist within you.
- Next, imagine this feeling as a living and moving energy. Watch it as it moves within you. If you like, you can even see it as a colour.
- Observe where you feel this energy in your body. Again, don’t try to change or influence it. Simply allow it to be there as it is.
- Now take a loving breath in and chant Om. As you do this, try and imagine the energy moving from where it’s located in your body and merging with your voice. Let your feelings be carried away through the vibrations of your voice.
- Repeat step 6 at least five times.
- When you’ve finished, breathe deeply into your belly and exhale with a sigh. Then slowly open your eyes.
For me, this is an incredibly great way to show self-love and self-acceptance to myself and my voice. Accepting our emotions as they are and working with them, rather than against them when we speak or sing, enables us to embrace ourselves in any situation. Expressing ourselves, whether for speaking or singing, from this place of wholeness is truly empowering. Don’t let anything hold you back from doing this in your life.
P.S. If you want to use your voice with confidence, power and impact – to speak or sing – I can help you. With twenty years of voice training experience, mindfulness practices and transformative practices, my voice training methods are easy-to-use, proven and effective. I’ve witnessed their power in myself and in countless students. And it’s my passion to share them with you! Because you are unique. Your voice is unique and I believe you have a message to share. Life is short. Don’t wait any longer to let your voice out.