The Sound of Self-Expression

by Jessie Gardner June 28, 2017

Hello, Friends!

Have I got a whale of a tale for you...


“Could that be possible?”


I mumbled to myself as I bid farewell to my former colleague and skipped away from my once full, now hollow mug of chai tea.


Is it possible? Could my voice have actually changed?


My colleague and I were mid-conversation and out of nowhere she says, “Wait a second. Something is different about you.”
I glanced down at myself and knew I hadn’t gone through a wild Sally Jessy Raphael makeover recently and quite honestly had no idea what she was talking about. Maybe it was just a good hair day (I get those about once a year)  or maybe it was the abundance of freckles across my cheeks now that the sun has been doing a flash dance out of the clouds since summer officially began.


“That’s it! It’s your VOICE. Your voice is different. You sound different.” She said.


I flashed an eyebrow raise like The Rock and asked her to elaborate - because clearly, a comment like that could go either direction on the spectrum of voices - we could be talking James Earl Jones, Cher, or Elmo here.


“There’s just more energy in your voice and you just sound different.”  


I continued to pry. She was comparing the sound of my voice before dropping my 9-5 job: the follow-the-crowd-do-what’s-safe-me versus the pursue-your-dream me.  


I couldn’t get this out of my head and had to go down the yellow brick road to find out more about the science of our voice. Because if my voice did change, it’s a revelation worth understanding.


It also got me curious about your voice too and how we all sound based on how our day to day matches up with who we really are and what we really want in life.


And guess what? Turns out, there are truths about your voice and even your inner voice that are worth understanding:

  • Psychology today says the voice is a primary mode of our self-expression. How we chose to use (or limit) this instrument reveals much about our self-perceived strengths and weaknesses.
  • Voice often reflects family history, relational history, cultural norm, social expectations, as well as confidence versus insecurity. You know what I’m talking about, like when you walk into that meeting with the CEO and it’s your turn to speak or when you get in front of that room full of faces you don't know, or maybe when you sit down to have a really tough conversation with a friend or wife or husband - the stability of your voice says a lot about what you are about to say and how confident you are in the message you are communicating. Think about how you sound when you are crying and try to talk. Your voice is a mirror to your emotional state.
  • According to the American Psychological Association, our voice also reveals our stress level. Typically our voices get crackly when we’ve got a lot of tightness in our throats—often as a result of stress. The muscles around our vocal chords are constricting, limiting air flow. Any audience will assume you’re as high-strung or uptight as you sound. But if your voice is smooth, you won’t speak with this tightness. The muscles around your vocal chords can relax, and your sound flows. Listeners will feel that you’re at ease and see you as strong.
  • The APA also says that specific studies have shown people can infer age, weight, and height just by hearing a voice recording as accurately as when they see a photo.
  • A mother’s voice eases a child’s stress just as much as hug.
  • And this fact, I found to be fascinating from NASA’s Ame Research Center: Your inner voice is louder than you think. It causes subvocalizations – tiny muscular movements in your larynx and mouth detectable with electromyography (EMG ) readings. They are acutally studying ways to translate what your inner voice is saying. WILD!


So, after learning just a sliver of the research out there on the human voice, I’m convinced it is likely my voice has changed and here’s why: the steps I have taken, since last seeing this colleague, toward who I truly am, what my soul is calling my life’s work to be and the legacy I want to leave feels like the equivalent of 100,000 miles. And my voice has been alongside me for the entire journey.

And in that journey there are things I’ve picked up like authenticity, risk-taking, surrender to learning, and loving the things I don’t yet know, the freedom of being an entrepreneur and truly being a mom that is present... all of these things have likely contributed to a shift in the sound that comes out of my mouth.  And to be honest, there’s also things like self-doubt that I’ve picked up along the journey. The upside is that I am learning this is part of every human experience and it actually creates the desire to accomplish what I think I cannot do.


Because it all comes down to belief at the end of the day …


Do you believe you can do it?

Do you believe in who you are and living that every day?

Do you believe where you spend your day reflects your genuine passion and purpose?

Do you believe where you live, where you work, where you play supports you in being your best you?


Do you believe?


And how is this impacting your voice or as Psychology Today calls it, your primary mode of self-expression?

How is this impacting what you are sharing with your team at work, on that client call, with your friends, when you are face to face with your lover or your mom… are you speaking your truth?


Because if you are speaking your truth, you are living your truth. And isn’t that the richest treasure there is - living a life inspired by the part of us that lives beneath all the layers we put on to impress the world?


Imagine what you would sound like.

Imagine who would listen.

Imagine who is waiting to hear your story and your true voice.

Maybe it's you?


Speak up, friend. Speak up. Don't wait for another breath.

Yours loudly and truly, 

Founder, HeySoul


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Jessie Gardner
Jessie Gardner