Have you ever experienced that lump in your throat right before you’re going to cry? It’s not the most pleasant sensation. One day, I noticed I was feeling it despite the absence of tears or any reason to cry.
And then a little later, I noticed it was still there. And the next day and the next and still a week later. At one point in my life, I may have perhaps given no second thought to this. Or, at some point called a physician to figure out what was wrong with me.
But, nowadays, as I notice the slightest shift in my body, I pay attention and ponder what’s behind the feeling. This one was an easy one – my throat, home to my voice.
As a child, I learned to not rock the boat, to keep quiet, to not voice myself as a tactic to keep safe. That tactic became embodied and followed me through to life as an adult. It wasn’t until the last couple years, though, that I was able to see this mind-body connection. What worked then isn’t working out so well for me now. I started to notice how in most every situation, I was avoiding anything that remotely resembles rocking the boat. More often than not, that meant I was ignoring my wants and needs. Sometimes it was simply sharing an opinion, other times it was overly accommodating myself to others—saying yes when I really wanted to say no, it was not standing up for myself, it was literally me not putting ME into the world. Voice stuff.
Over the years, I’ve grown into my voice, and while it remains as work, I’m worlds away from where I was. When I observe that familiar physical reaction set in, sometimes I’m able to catch it from taking hold, and, instead, express myself with or without fear. When I notice my inner critic playing mind games, I often know how to turn the voice off. It’s liberating, and so much less exhausting than battling with guilt and shame over imperfect expression.
So now that I feel quite mentally and emotionally secure in developing this voice, this block sitting in my throat feels quite odd. It’s like my body is saying, “You think you’ve got this expression stuff in the bag? Not so fast.” And it proceeds to taunt me with every physical thing it can think of.
For 24 hours, I was in pain after what felt like a vocal chord snapped. I had been facing a fear head-on by choosing to share a specific vulnerability I’d been avoiding for years.
A couple months later, I developed a waver in my voice that stopped by every once in a while.
And a few months later still, I found myself letting out huge sighs and nearly gulping for air after sharing personal struggles with friends.
The thing is, I felt more calm and confident than I ever had before.
And then, the constricting lump in my throat. I felt like I was choking. So I asked myself: “What am I choking back? What am I not expressing?” And, instantly, I knew the answer. In fact, it was three things: the third preceding the onset of the sensation.
So one by one, I checked these vital conversations off my to-do list. And after I hung up the phone to the one that weighed most heavily, the feeling disappeared.
The physical manifestation of our emotional self is incredible, isn’t it?
What habits do you embody that you’re carrying around from childhood? Think about how you react to life, or how you show up in most situations. Is there a theme? Can you see this theme in a past life-experience?
I can clearly recall the moment I realized how the protection mechanism of my child self was still calling the shots. And, since, I’ve encountered many other moments where I notice myself react in a way that was shaped by a childhood experience.
The awareness is empowering, whether it enables the release of that habit or simply the ability to find a starting point that helps you unstick the stuck in your body.
Author: Kara McNabb is a naturopathic practitioner.