One of the core principles of my book, Successful Women Think Differently, is the understanding that your thoughts create your actions. If you become aware of what you are saying to yourself about your situation, you can consciously decide if the thought is moving you toward your goals or farther away. But your thoughts don’t just lead you to take actions such as initiating a conversation or going back to school or opening your heart again after it’s been broken. Your thoughts also shape the sound of your voice. Your voice is the expression of your internal state. If your internal state is anxious, for example, and you think danger is imminent, your voice will reflect anxiety. Your body responds to your thoughts of anxiety.
The sound of your voice is regulated by the vagus nerve, which is central to the parasympathetic nervous system. When the vagus nerve is stimulated, which can happen as a fight-or-flight response to anxiety-producing thoughts, the vocal cord muscle spasms. This can cause your voice to quiver or ‘sound nervous’. Additionally, when stressed or nervous, you typically don’t breathe deeply. As a result, you don’t have the air that creates the pressure needed for a strong, consistent voice quality.
What can you do about it?
- Become aware of your thoughts and redirect counterproductive ones. Instead of mulling over a counterproductive thought, intentionally redirect it by changing your environment, choosing a new thought, or engaging in an activity that gets your mind moving in a new direction.
- Exercise purges negative energy.
- If there is something you need to say that makes you uncomfortable or anxious, or that you must present to a group, practice what you are going to say in advance. Even record it and listen to find the areas where you want to improve. Practice always alleviates nervous energy.
- Hydration alleviates dry mouth. Drink water before or during important conversations.
- Talk it out. Choose wisely, but identify someone who will help you put your negative thoughts into perspective and restore a sense of confidence and calm.
My Challenge to you this week:
Notice your thoughts, especially when you are stressed or anxious.
What thoughts make you anxious about an upcoming conversation you need to have?
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