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My voice was one of my earliest obsessions, but not as a singer.
It was about having a point of view and being heard. Mostly being heard. Because I wasn’t.
When you have something to say, not being heard is the most diminishing.
I am naturally soft-spoken, but I’m not sure if it’s entirely a competition of decibels. Even while writing this, I had an experience of speaking, but being unheard. It wasn’t so much the awkward feeling of being completely ignored, it was the feeling of being invisible, discounted, and excluded when all I really wanted was to be a part of the conversation.
So, I became a really good observer and an even deeper listener.
They say that the blind have an impeccable sense of hearing, but I also had the fortune of sight—being muted while seeing clearly amplifies everything we hear.
If you’ve ever wondered how, in our oversaturated world of noise, I had the experience of being mute, especially given I worked a radio job, you’re not alone. But this isn’t an exposé of my silencing. This is about what I heard, loud and clear, when I could only look at the world, the way you’d observe a patient from an enclosed lab.
Silence, the verb, is more violent than its noun. And I protested with matching violence of inaudible decibels. Fighting was defeating, fatiguing, and often escalated the silencing. So instead of fighting my way forward, I started to work my way inward.
Strangely, inversion worked. The more comfortable I became in isolation, the deeper I experienced the world around me. The sharper I heard humanity, the clearer I distinguished between voice, noise, all the variations of control, and their rival derivatives of pain.
So much of our audible conversation is noise, and that keeps us shallow by design. So much so, I now choose to be disconnected.
Rising anxiety statistics show that I’m not alone in this struggle with noise, and I’ve written previously about various ways of arriving at peace.
That’s the first necessary step. Once there, our common patterns are loud and clear:
Everyone loves to feel validated.
Not to be praised, nor receive words of affection or comfort, but to be validated. Perhaps more than food and sleep, we need to feel felt.
Whether we are correct or misguided, we want most to be validated, first and foremost, by the people we hold dear. But we will take it from just about anyone. This part of our seemingly innocent nature is the first fork in the path of our derailment, because the need for validation cheapens us.
Think back to any instance where we had differences of opinion with those who truly care for us. How many of those moments escalated into fights and arguments? How many of us did the easy thing and complained to someone who would get it and agree with us?
When we feel attacked, we want nothing more than the comfort of alignment.
Thus, it comes as no surprise that mirroring is a tactic used widely to befriend, negotiate, manipulate, and gaslight. In a culture with a growing focus on acceptance, we want nothing more than to be accepted, understood, and not judged. When we are desperate for validation, we end up falling for the same tricks, because we end up exhibiting common patterns.
Con artists and master manipulators understand this flaw. Few of us go against nature, and they know human nature better than the average person. Both those who love us and those who wish us harm often know us better than ourselves—except those wishing us harm tend to be more skillful at expressing exactly what we need to hear.
If we took the time to know ourselves and study human psychology and behavior, we’d know better, too, but how many of us actually take the time to reflect? Noise keeps us distracted and focused on external things. Noise keeps us easily influenced.
When we don’t take the time to study ourselves, when we haven’t taken the journey inward, anyone who crashes in will make an impactful landing, especially when they know we are hallow. Validation is the first trick used to lure us closer, all in the guise of acceptance, and we stray from what’s good for us, because we like what feels good.
When we don’t receive validation, we go out of our way to attack opinions that challenge the views we’ve held onto for security. We manifest disdain. This is a common survival instinct.
Validation erases resistance. Thus, its existence or its lack, is what will make or break the walls between us.
Most of us base decisions on emotions, though few will ever admit this, because we don’t have the emotional bandwidth or awareness.
Thinking we are rational beings is our first mistake, when most of us cannot accurately locate, identify, or express our emotions.
We don’t obey logic. Lectures turn us off. We obey pain, and all that soothes it. Pain is always the loudest.
For those of us attached to devices, our devices know us better than we know ourselves, because not only is data king, analysis is what makes it powerful. Our devices may not always accurately analyze us, but they do it. That’s a step more than what most of us do ourselves. Certainty, even in what’s wrong, ends up more convincing than a faint acknowledgment of what’s correct.
We choose fear and pain, more than we choose love or dreams. Consequently, we alienate, label, and judge more than we give way, forgive, and make room for alternative thinking and ideas. We cling onto anger, which not only wreaks havoc in our physical realities, but more dangerously, magnifies and multiplies all that disempowers us, and warps our minds.
No one would ever admit to choosing harm over love, but most of us do just that.
Consciousness is key. Do we love love enough to choose it? Or are we choosing harm by default because it’s easy—and then we’d always have a reason to say, “That’s why it didn’t work out?”
We each are blessed with one life; what if it worked out? Some of us land on the moon, but most of us self-destruct on Earth.
We are more confident in our wrongs than we are in what makes us beautiful.
What if I told you, that outside of a courtroom, it’s often better to be wrong?
We misread more than we understand, because few of us truly listen. And when we do, we listen to get our rebuttal in, we don’t listen to take a step back. It’s easier to blame that “they don’t get it,” when the way forward is to first admit that oftentimes, we don’t get it.
When our average attention span is reduced from 30 seconds to a mere 8 seconds, what can we really be sure of? Our collective growing margin of error? Fast information and fast judgement, without deep understanding, engender only fast errors. Worse, our need for validation sidesteps our curiosity to see the bigger picture, and where we might be misguided.
Only when we address the roots of our lack, can we truly become someone more whole. When we don’t feel we’re at fault, we end up becoming comfortable in our conglomerate of errors. What is more dangerous than that?
I recently watched a friend’s short film online, and was shocked to read comments that attacked her for what her film was totally not about. Could she have more clearly expressed her message? Perhaps. But it’s not on her that people take one word in the entire piece out of context and derail her message with their own judgments. I observed people—who were essentially on the same side of her argument—tear her down. It was absolutely absurd and terrifying. Our behaviors in the age of noise reduce us.
Habits are louder than our dreams and are what end up sustaining how we grow.
Perhaps the saddest observation I’ve made is that it’s more common to avoid making waves than it is to stand up for what we believe in.
This goes against all the inspirational quotes mixed in with the noise we are fed.
As such, our behaviors will always trump inspiration, willpower, plans, and talent. Yes, goals are important, and talent makes us stand out, but habits are what can turn us into a common failure, or extraordinarily world-class.
This confirms that we ourselves, more than anyone else, are our own worst enemies. Most of us are misaligned—none of our three brains or seven chakras match up. By choosing the path of least resistance, we end up engaging with the wrong people, and obeying the voices that make us fall instead of rise.
I recently learned from a sales coach that there are three approaches to sales: “skin-based” selling, “bones-based” selling, and “heart-based” selling.
Sales people who excel in their craft study our psychology more than we do, and they aim for the bones and the heart, because the deeper we dig to the bones, the more we all have in common. These three approaches to selling deliver three distinct experiences. Their products don’t change, but how we are made to feel changes dramatically depending on the narrative used.
Imagine if we shifted our approach to how we live our lives. Would our experiences also change, regardless of what the events had been?
My own experience is yes. This is how I was able to turn events that silenced me into a journey that sharpened and strengthened me.
Human nature and human potential often work in inverse relations.
It’s true when they say that it’s not what happens to us, but what we do with what is done to us, that shapes our future.
Lastly, we must always keep in mind that it serves more interests to keep us broken than it does, to keep us whole.
Historian and futurist Yuval Noah Harari’s recent TED interview is both profound and unsettling. What he observed confirms all of the above, and that growing industries, along with hateful and harmful voices, are trying to send their hands into our brains to find the volume button and turn it up.
Now more than ever, it is hardest to locate our own voice. It is within our nature to reach for what’s easy, but it is also in our bones to fight for what we fervently believe in. Clarity and consciousness are our best defense. Elevation goes against gravity. Be the one who flies, not falls.