Disbelief made me shy. So shy I actually stammered a reply to harmless natural questions like, 'hey, how was your weekend.' Stymied by the need to say something while my disbelief shouted 'you're BORING', my eyes looked sideways to the ceiling while my lips said, "f-f-f-f-f-ine" with a tone of voice that probably communicated my acute discomfort and distaste with my own seized up awkwardness and inward pain.
When I sang, my throat was so tight I could barely make a sound. I wanted desperately to be accepted and liked while desperately wanting to be invisible and not take up space or impact anyone adversely. I sidestepped life, avoided expressing opinions, learned that my own thoughts or feelings had no value. I listened carefully to others and took my cues from them, sure that if I followed their lead, everyone would be happy with me and I would be okay. I learned that I had very little to offer, and that there was not much point in trying, I'd just waste everyone's time and look like a fool.
All tangled up inside myself, with no clear idea of my Self or my own wishes, I still managed to somehow survive. Looking back I can see glimmers of awakening. I certainly had dreams and sometimes pursued them, but I never seemed to finish anything.
It was the process of learning to sing that helped me really awaken to my own thought process. I needed to become aware of my thoughts as imaging is a big part of singing. Imagine or think a certain way, and the voice responds. As you realize your thoughts become the intention your body follows in order to do something naturally and well, you begin to see what you're thinking. Journalling also assisted me. I remember filling up a big 3 Subject notebook within the space of a week or ten days... and then looking at it and seeing how dark my thoughts were.
I discovered the power of the negative messages that took up most of my conscious and unconscious brainpower.
Julia Cameron (The Artist's Way) calls these negative thoughts "blurts". She suggests identifying them, and then framing an affirmation. When the old disbelief kicks in with the "you're too old and who are you kidding anyway you'll never be good enough" ...I respond with a "I am a young, strong and worthy singer. I have the right to sing."
I learned through the act of singing that I cannot erase doubts or negative thoughts, but I can replace them with more constructive images or ideas.
This journey isn't easy of course. Awareness comes and goes. Past programming rears its ugly head at moments. Sometimes we are aware, but unable to modify our actions. Sometimes we aren't aware at all until after the event. Sometimes, we are aware and we are able to adjust our thinking midstream.
I learned, in voice, that in order to change something, you first have to become aware of it. Then you need to commit to persistently recognizing and replacing it with something that works better for you. We call that 'practice' *grins*