When I was young, I moved away from my family and was surrounded by people and things that were different from me. They spoke differently, moved at a slower pace, and didn’t seem to care about the same things.

At first I hated it. I felt like a fish out of water. It was very awkward. I couldn’t relate. Everything was strange. 

In time, I adapted and came to love the novelty and different pace of life. When I returned, I was shocked by what had changed in such a short period of time! 

I was visiting with my sisters. As I took in their mellow, strong voices, my own high pitched, sweet voice sounded weak and wrong in comparison. I’m quite sure my own voice sounded like theirs at one point. What happened?

What's Your "Natural" Voice?

It’s common for people to think that they have a “natural voice.” We don’t.

We have a habitual voice. Our habitual voice is the voice that we adopt based upon our influences. We take on the characteristics of people that we admire, spent time around,  fear, or want to accept us. 

Our voice reflects where we were in the pecking order, our state of health, and our self-esteem at the time that our mode of speaking became habitual.

This could mean that our voice is weak, powerful, loud, soft, commanding, deep, high pitched, lilting, or flat. 

Finding Your Voice

If your way of speaking is not working for you, it’s okay to change it. 

At first it will be weird. People may even say that you sound “fake.” No! You’re not being fake, you’re breaking out of old habit to find your authentic self now.

Nowhere is it written that you must stay the same shy six year old who spoke in a soft monotone! 

If you want to be a confident, self-assured, respected, sexy person with healthy boundaries, adopting a speaking style that communicates that is a great way to get there.

When I noticed how “off” I sounded with my high pitched voice, I realized that something must have happened to influence me to adapt that pitch. I didn’t like it. I liked the way my sisters sounded and dropped my pitch. It felt good!

Later in life, I noticed some ladies who spoke in complimentary superlatives. Everything was “wonderful” and “beautiful.” It was like they were sprinkling light everywhere with their words.

It was so foreign to me that at first I started making fun of them. Then it felt so good that I embraced that way of speaking, too. Now, it just feels sincere and normal. I enjoyed the lightness of it and made it my own.

Practice Makes Perfect

Every new habit begins with practice. Don’t be afraid to try out different things. Be silly. Play with your voice. It’s an instrument of communication.

Imitate your favorite celebrities, singers, or family members. Vary your pitch. Alter the speed at which you speak. Speak with more emotion and then less. Let your loudness fluctuate. See what feels authentic to you.

Take it a step further and incorporate physicality into your voice practice. Move your body, gesture, and use facial expressions to enhance your delivery. This adds another layer of depth and engagement to your communication. Unlock your expressive potential by exploring the connection between your body and voice.

It’s okay to even change your words. 

When I was a new therapist, I worked with teens. One day I was speaking to one of my clients and she had this quizzical look on her face. Finally, she burst out with, “I can’t understand you!” 

That was illuminating! 

I was a very well read child and often spoke with a vocabulary that reflected the books I read. Unfortunately, most of the general population didn’t read those books, so I probably confounded a lot of people. 

After that, I adjusted my words and typically speak with a vocabulary that kids can understand. Since everything is a reflection of you, it’s wise to look at yourself in the mirror now and then and make adjustments if the reflection isn’t a true one.

What this continues to teach me is that my voice can be used to create connection and understanding or detract from it. My voice can help me to be seen or disappear. It’s a tool that can and should evolve as we evolve. If you are growing, perhaps your voice should change to reflect your current self.