I didn’t speak much as a kid because I did not have the required confidence. The fear of judgement, bullying and being made fun of inhibited me from expressing myself. It is also curious that hardly any teacher (or adult around) encouraged me. However, I won’t blame them because no one teaches us how to deal with human beings; educating humans in fostering good relationships is not something deemed necessary in the rat race of life. 🙂
I have loved expressing myself since my teens. Then the opportunities did not come as much as I would have liked. By the grace of Krishna (God), I could find many opportunities to express myself in college and, subsequently, theatre.
When I reflect on the previous decade of my life (the 20s), I realise I should have been more careful with words. Just because you have a blessing of an actively working vocal chord(s), and you know a language, should not mean you keep talking– especially speaking harshly or using your voice to cause pain or hurt to another living being. I am guilty of doing so on innumerable occasions.
However, barring the angry outbursts and caustic expressions, I have never been told that my verbal (or written) expressions created a problem for anyone.
I have a habit that I adore. I continuously try and update myself with knowledge to improve. I’m a big fan of self-help. Thanks to the habit, lately, I realised that I could be a better listener. I reflected upon many conversations with my friends and those around me and realised there is little active listening. Exchanges, where one is actually interested in what the other person has to say, are precious few. I liken it to the time some of us used to play gully cricket. Everyone was desperate to either be the bowler or the batsman! No one wanted to field. Or, in few cases, some only wanted to do the batting (talking)!
Over the past few months, I have been willing to apply my mind to listen when someone is talking. I am not always successful. My previously created and set habits of wanting to interrupt the other person with something I wish to say does crop up. But, because I’ve become aware and started improving myself, I see good changes, which makes me happy.
There is an interesting off-shoot to this little practical of mine that I noticed, though. That’s what prompted me to write this blog.
We may be aware of this voice inside us, which acts as a critic and keeps judging us, no matter what we do. It may be a voice of an adult we had to endure as a child, which became a set pattern in our subconscious. My inner critic has been a constant for a long time. A few years of therapy under able teachers and, of course, self-analysis/work and good company has helped me identify it. Identification is one thing, though and shutting it down is an entirely different thing altogether. It takes time. It IS taking time for me, at least.
So, as soon as I started trying to be a better listener, I felt guilty about expressing myself! So much so that I began to feel sorry about being expressive in conversations or talking (what I deem is) too much.
Strange are the workings of the human mind!
It is noteworthy that no one else told me or pointed out that I’m speaking too much or that I should give my vocal cords a rest. Well, maybe they wanted to but were just kind not to do so!
I ask myself, why should I or anyone not express themselves when they can?
Unless one speaks words full of malice, hate, putting others down, judging, abusing, gossiping, pushing a political agenda or unnecessarily boasting about themselves, why should one not speak if they feel like doing so?
I have observed how good it feels for others when I have heard them out and allowed them to share earnestly. Becoming a better listener should not equal a guilt consciousness about your expressions.
So, dear reader, if you something to share, to express, to talk, do it. Just know when to shut up if you feel that the person you share it with is not interested. 🤷♂️
But, even then, you can journal, record audios, talk to your pet, a plant, a tree, or best of all— God, if you have that faith and connection. Heck, talking your heart out to God can accentuate your connection to the divine, unlike any other method.
Most importantly, do not feel bad for what makes you come alive. I always highlight that as long as what you do doesn’t cause hurt or pain, you should do it. I took my example and realisation around verbal expression, but for you, it could be something different.
Through this write-up, I have tried to remind myself of this essential wisdom of not being ashamed of your authentic self.
I hope you resonate and find meaning.
RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE SMILING PANDA:
MOVIES: Moneyball. This Brad Pitt movie is a real-life inspired movie about people who have dreams and wish to change the status quo. Based on the game of Baseball, the film doesn’t demand you to know about the game to enjoy it. You’d love Pitt’s earnest portrayal of his character and the charming presence of Jonah Hill.
Another film that I recently saw is the Oscar-winning movie, Another Round. Centred around the lives of a few teachers undergoing mid-life crisis who start experimenting with alcohol usage to see how it affects their lives. Some of you may enjoy it. 😊
BOOKS: Because I shared the subject of communication in this post, I’d like to recommend a book for you to check out by this Buddhist monk called Thich Nhat Hanh. The book is called Art of Communicating. Through the book, you can learn a lot about breath awareness, loving and kind communication. God knows the world can do more of that.
My best fiction read of the year has been Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner. I was blown away and completed hooked onto it. Here is my review of the same:
Music: Lonely People by America