Writers struggle to "find their voice." But it is not just writers who need to know and use their authentic voice, it's all of us.
Many of us have different voices for different things we do; a "work voice" and a "mom voice," for instance. But what is your authentic voice?
Many people don't know their authentic voice because it wasn't allowed to develop in youth. Often children are told not to express their feelings, or that their voice doesn't matter.
Many people are shy, and afraid to use their voice.
But what does it mean to know and use your authentic voice? I think it means having the courage to speak what is on your mind and in your heart.
That doesn't mean being mean-spirited, even if you are angry. It does mean being honest.
The question is, is it possible to be honest and kind at the same time? And, if we operate with restraint, are we actually restraining our authentic voice?
As with anything else in life, using your authentic voice takes balance. It is possible to express feelings, even negative feelings, in a positive way. It is possible to be authentic and still have regard for the people around you.
Once in a while you run into a person who confuses meanness with honestly. A person who says "hey, I'm just telling the truth the way I see it," while indeed they are instead using their words as an opportunity to hurt someone.
The way to avoid this is simple. When it comes to communicating your truth, never have a second agenda. Never let it be about ego, or about trying to diminish someone else.
Your authentic voice, whether written or spoken, must be about expressing yourself, not your agenda.
The tarot suit of Swords, associated most often with the element of Air, is all about communication. That's why so many of the Swords cards often have very stark, unpleasant pictures. So often we are hurt by the words of others. Sometimes, the words we speak are hurtful to others.
Authenticity can be revealing - even shocking. But it is never intentionally hurtful.
In the literary world, and in the tarot world, reviews are an important part of our careers. Many of us write reviews of books, movies, tarot decks, and even restaurants. Reviews are important to writers and artists because those reviews help us to be better. One could argue that a bad review is the most helpful review of all. Constructive criticism is helpful when it is authentic.
When reviewers have a second agenda, their review is no longer authentic, and helps no one. Another way to honor our authentic voice is to dismiss the voices of others that are not authentic.
This is true, too, in the way that we see ourselves. We all have an inner critic. When that inner critic is authentic, it helps us to be better. When that inner critic comes from a place of anxiety and bad self-esteem, it is no longer authentic. When we think about the authentic voice, we must realize this refers to what we express to the world, and our inner dialogue that only we hear.
Finding your authentic voice is part of finding your identity. So many adults attach their identity to temporary things - things like raising small children, jobs and relationships. When that part of life is over, suddenly we don't know who we are anymore.
Sadly, sometimes we use the tragedies in our lives to define ourselves as well.
For me, tarot has been a great tool for finding identity, and finding the authentic voice, for both me and my clients.
Another great tool is to have an understanding of the chakras. To directly work with the throat chakra in meditation and breathing exercises is very helpful. To connect the throat chakra and the heart chakra is an amazing way to let the authentic voice present itself.
I often see the Ace of Swords as the "anti-bullsh*t device." I sometimes take this card and hold it to my throat chakra, breathing in its energy, that I may know my truth, speak my truth, and discern the things I hear as either truth or untruth.
This is one of the ways that tarot helps me find my authentic voice.
From my 78 Poems Project
The Ace of Swords
Forged steel of ingenuity
Communication, keen focus, acuity.
No tolerance for thieves in this blade
As Excalibur discerned a kingdom was made.
This Sword seeks no royalty
It 's a common but sacred thing, honesty.
This Sword of Air scourges lies
Reveals truth behind malicious disguise.
Questions ignorance, banishes confusion
And separates reality from delusion.
But do not take this Sword of Air
Without the strength the truth to bear.
And remember with faith, when truth is clear
It's never as dark as what you fear.