Updated: Sep 9, 2020
In Sanskrit the word - Maitri - is translated as unconditional friendship with one's self. This friendship is the heart of compassion. It is this sense of friendship which allows for the fullness of our self and thus our voice to be discovered - not as how we deem it 'should' be but instead how it wants to express itself through us. But, what does it really meant to meet our voice in this way?
Friendship in Communication
We all know what it's like to communicate when there isn't a friendly environment - like sharing something vulnerable to someone who isn't able to listen. This lack of connection shows up in a number of ways - from outright dismissal of what we say, to steering the conversation away from what is being said & imposing what they believe 'should' be said or felt. We may even find that our emotions, words, or confusion, seem to aggravate the person we are speaking with.
This is not in itself wrong. There are many reasons why this might occur & realistically we all fall into these behaviours at times. However, we can also recognize the challenges that these situations incur - shame, fear of expressing, a questioning of our own feelings, & perhaps even over time the inability to trust ourselves or discern what we actually feel or think. It can even change the resonance of our voice - becoming either meek in nervousness or abrasive as it desperately seeks to be 'heard.'
Yet, on the other side of the equation - in those situations where our vulnerability is met with friendship & genuine curiosity - there is an incredible opportunity for growth. When a friend listens without agenda but with the intention, to care, & ultimately support us it creates space for evolved understanding & deepened connection. They might listen, reflect back to us, ask questions, and even bring to light discrepancies in our thinking, enabling us to gain a greater perspective. Their willingness to engage, listen, & support ultimately helps us uncover greater meaning & self understanding. We know ourselves better because of them. This is the power of friendship - to hold one another in respect & kindness in a way that makes us better as people.
The Friend our Voice Deserves
These same scenarios occur when we meet the voices inside of us. Our emotions, inner dialogues, & sensory world are like friends that come to visit. Some are met easily with kindness & listening while others are likely met with dismissal or avoidance.
It's these voices in particular that need our friendship. The voice of our anxiety, our worry, our fears & insecurities, are the voices of our self seeking to be understood. Like us they may first arise in reactionary ways, loud or abrupt & almost always uncomfortable - yet, if we can step back & listen to them as a friend we may discover pieces of our self that we had lost.
Listening does not mean agreeing - it means seeking to understand with out agenda. This is the friendship we can offer our voice(s).
What might we discover if we took these often dismissed voices & instead sought to understand them? What if we listened patiently & without agenda to what they had to say & allowed our hearing to go beyond their initial reactive expression to the root of their needs & desires? What if we became a friend to this voice - holding it love even as it flailed or fought it's own unravelling?
Hold Your Voice in Friendship
I invite you to practice this friendship with your own inner voices. What voice (sensation/emotion/inner dialogue) do you tend to avoid or dismiss? What would happen if you met it like this?
Notice it. Pause & notice all that comes with this inner voice - the thoughts, sensations, narrative, & emotions. Allow yourself to feel it in your body.
Meet it. Ask it with humility & curiosity
What would you like me know?
Would you tell me what you are afraid of?
How might I support you in feeling loved, held, & safe?
When you listen to this voice - it's sensations, words, & imprints - go beyond the rationalizations & stories of your mind & listen from your humble & curious soul. Give this voice space to find it's answers & be there as the friend who shows up time & again with the intention to support & understand. The answers rarely lie in the narrative we create - the stories of how or why - but in the deep sense of witnessing, honouring, & experiencing that which is arises & dissolves in our presence.
In my work I have seen that most often the voice we once deemed as ugly or wrong is really that of an inner child - lost, scared, & simply seeking to be loved & understood. To give this voice space & understanding is to give our wounds a place to heal, our heart a place to grow, and our mind a place to learn. As we do this not only do we find more esteem within ourself but our external voice takes on a different tone - one more dynamic, grounded, and expressive of truth.
And so I wonder & gently probe you to inquire what you might find in be-friending your voice.
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About the Author Amy Thiessen is a coach, writer, and musician who focuses on helping others find and express a their voice with resonance. Her unique approach works with the wholistic mechanism of voice utilizing somatic awareness, psychology, mindfulness, spiritual practice, and vocal techniques of toning and song.