When push comes to shove
A client's experience of pushing
Asha is a talented and seasoned performer who has sung professionally for 33 of her 52 years. She called me from her home in Canada, alarmed that she was experiencing "breaks" in her voice. She also wasn't having fun singing, and she was avoiding practicing. Like any performer, Asha was distraught about this turn of events. The harder she focused on the problem, the bigger it became. You could say she was practicing The Law of Attraction-in reverse.
Her fear and negativity showed in the way she talked about the problem:
- My voice is weak!
- I'm having breaks in my voice - I'm scared of them coming.
- I try to push through them but it's getting worse.
Research shows that focusing on negative statements increases their occurrence. Are you focusing on a negative situation in your life, instead of on the many strengths and skills you have to overcome it and move toward your goals?
When I do intake with clients, I ask several questions-and in just 10 minutes, I know a lot. For example, in Asha's case, it went something like this:
Q. What do you believe might be in the way of achieving your goals?
A. Fear of not being liked and fear of being reprimanded.
Q. How would you describe your relationship with authority figures?
A. Fear, deference, sometimes I need to please or get approval.
Q. Who had the power in the family and who did not?
A. My parents had no power and neither did I.
Imagine absorbing that NO one in your immediate family-those you depend upon for safety and guidance-had no power? Asha also shared that she felt unattractive, afraid of being bullied, awkward physically. Everything she said painted a picture of pushing hard throughout her life to be recognized, seen and-literally-heard.
In Asha's life, her pattern is one of pushing. And there's much the rest of us can learn from her example. Are you doing this anywhere in your life? Are you getting what you truly want? Are you having fun getting there?
Solving this problem can look easy, but the pattern of pushing rarely shows up in an isolated area of one's life. For Asha, it was quickly evident that several aspects of her life were complicated by pushing, by this "trying to MAKE it happen" attitude.
Pushing in singing or any kind of performing may be symptom of:
- Pushing to be heard
- Pushing to be liked
- Pushing to be validated ("Am I OK?")
- Pushing for recognition ("Will my mother ever SEE me?")
Asha would unconsciously push her voice in the hopes of being heard. Without meaning to, she was tensing all the muscles, tissue, tendons, all aspects of her vocal chords, lips, and facial muscles-her entire body. And the result was the exact opposite of what she wanted; a fluid, beautiful, flexible sound. Through EFT phone sessions, Asha made huge shifts in her singing and her enjoyment of practicing and performing.
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Before we start tapping, take a paper and pen for this easy, helpful exercise. List two or three times you recall feeling really "stuck"-and your response. Did you:
- Push harder? (I'll make this happen, no matter how hard it becomes!)
- Fold? (I give up!)
- Find a way to ease off the pressure and resume, refreshed and productive?