I lost my voice last Friday. I don’t mean I was hoarse. I mean I picked up the phone to call someone and nothing came out. If you know me, you would know that I am not a shrinking violet and keeping my mouth shut is a non-experience for me.
I must have had a cold and then just ran myself into the ground, but I am a firm believer that every experience is a lesson.
I kept asking myself through all this quiet time, “what I am I learning?”. First, I learned that I am grateful for my voice. It is really hard not to be able to talk. And, I learned that I am stressing myself a bit too much these days and I need to take it easy. Those were easy lessons to see.
But, the next two lessons were surprising to me.
I did have a few conversations (one sided) in person and a few on the phone (though nothing coming out on my end). I realized that I am a terrible listener. When I was forced to listen (and had no choice), I did. I didn’t interrupt though I so wanted to (as I do often). I didn’t give advice because I couldn’t. I just listened and I realized I don’t really listen to people. I am usually thinking about what I am going to say, giving my two cents, but not actively listening to people’s words and emotions as best I could.
Suddenly, I was. I could feel a difference. As I very slowly get my voice back, I hope I will continue to actively listen to others more often.
The last lesson I learned is that I was more peaceful. I talk a lot and sometimes I think that causes more anxiety than just sitting or even listening. I remember a teacher I had in high school used to always say, “if you’re talking, you’re not learning”. Sometimes, I learn when I am teaching students, but more often than not, I learn more when I listen.
My voice is hoarse today and that is a huge step forward. But, I am hoping not to forget what it feels like to give someone my full attention.