Monday, June 02, 2014

Lessons of a Lost Voice

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.