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Losing my voice

I had an entirely different blog topic in mind for this week--then the cold hit. Colds are no big deal and to be expected when one lives with a preschooler (or almost any kid). But this time, I ended up with laryngitis. Little or no voice. And guess what I do for a living (both livings) - yep, talk.

I know that we lose our voices, both in physical terms and in personal/relational terms, rather easily. Sometimes something external happens - a virus, a job loss, a relationship loss or change, and you find you can't speak into the situation as you might like due to a lack of ability or position. Sometimes something internal happens - cancer, a new fear or perception of lack of power (all of which may be triggered by external things of course), or even just getting tired of speaking/shouting/screaming, and something holds you back from using your voice to advocate for yourself or others.

But sometimes silence is golden too. I had to hoard my words these last couple of days, and really think about what I wanted to say and if it were worth trying to say. I didn't do so well the first day and paid for it the second - consequences are a great teacher, but that's another post. How often do we, or the people around us, use our voices in selfish or destructive ways? That was actually my original topic after having been the target of a backhanded and barely disguised highly inappropriate compliment. You know the kind, where everyone knows what the speaker meant and it wasn't really that nice but was worded in such a way that one couldn't really object. A blatant misuse of voice.

Speaking for oneself and the marginalized, using our voices in healthy ways, including not using our voices sometimes and hearing one another respectfully--these are some of the most critical things we seem to be trying to figure out how to do as a culture right now. You'll find all kinds of articles and posts about ways to do it, ways not to, and the evening news is full of examples of when it doesn't work.

How we use our voices matters. How we understand the situations when we cannot seem to use our voices matters. What words do I choose to use in this relationship, in that space? What does my body, what do my actions say? They are my voice too. Does my voice build up or tear down? Does my voice advocate, empower, encourage, set good boundaries for myself and others? Has my voice been taken from me, and what do I need to do or change to get it back?

The writer of Proverbs in the Hebrew Bible says, "Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." Buddha is credited with saying, "Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good and for ill." Buddha also said, "Better than a thousand hollow words is one word that brings peace." Jesus taught his followers, "The things that come out of a person's mouth come from the heart..."

Therapy can help you find your voice and use it well. Therapy can also help heal a wounded heart. But each one of us is responsible for the willingness and growth to do either. May we, as a global community, learn to use our voices for the good of all.

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