“Only egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate doesn’t like your voice.”
– Cheri Huber, “It’s Time to Feel Good” email class, November 2011.
I first encountered the hating-my-voice conditioning about 17 years ago at a Monastery retreat. I was trying to record regular reassurances to myself and found that when I was speaking as the one giving reassurances the words and the willingness were there. When I listened, however, it was a different experience. “I” became disgusted with my Midwestern twangy accent and a voice that sounded “weak.” And it all went downhill from there. Soon, “I” was believing that the reassurances weren’t true and weren’t working and I should just give up. So I did, despite guidance from the Guide and the facilitators that conditioning was generating the self-hate experience and their encouragement to keep on recording.
It’s no mystery why conditioning wants me – and all of us – to hate the sound of our voice. If we hate hearing ourselves, we probably won’t do any Recording and Listening. And if we don’t do any Recording and Listening, we cut ourselves off from the life-changing experience of hearing from the deepest, most authentic part of ourselves what is really real, wise, and true.
“I’ve never in 30+ years of offering this practice seen anything bring the level of transformation that recording and listening is providing,” Cheri wrote in her blog in April 2011. “The unique and astonishing piece of it is that people are able, usually for the first time, to experience that 1) they are not egocentric karmic conditioning/self-hate, and 2) they can have immediate, direct access to the wisdom, love, and compassion that animates us.”
Who would not want that experience? (You get three guesses.)
Well, I know this now, but it took a while to get here. A few years ago, Cheri began telling everyone about Recording and Listening and urging all to try it. I tried it for a while and then stopped. I still hated my voice and I just didn’t think it was working. Then, at some point, I went on a retreat at the Monastery and got it that ending my suffering really was entirely up to me. I’m not sure how that happened, and I don’t even remember which retreat it was, but I recall sensing a definite Sangha shift away from “trying to take care of poor little me” to directing the attention to having the life experience we want. No one else was going to give me what I needed. I had to work out my own salvation diligently.
Back home, I started Recording and Listening – not regularly – but at least I was doing it. One morning, I was driving to a job I’d had for only a few weeks and was full of anxiety. I had been listening to conditioning’s reviews of my performance and dire warnings that I was failing. Out of desperation, I turned on the recorder and started talking about the fear. When I switched to the Mentor, she said words to the effect of: “What Conditioning is telling you is a story. It’s not true. You’re doing fine. Everything is OK.” She then pointed out the positive responses and evaluations I was getting. Her guidance: “Just breathe. Stay as present as possible. Keep going.”
I didn’t even notice the “sound” of her voice and whether I liked it or not. I was at the point where I needed Mentoring, and I didn’t care about her accent or whether she spoke in Pig Latin. I needed the Mentor and she was there. She sounded clear and true and loving and strong to me. I needed help and my heart responded. That’s all that mattered. I remember making it through the workday with more calm and pleasure than I had experienced in a very long time.
From then on, I knew where to go to get whatever I needed. Now, when I listen to recordings, I rarely even think about the sound of my voice, and when I do, I realize that I have come to love it. Hearing wisdom, support, and love in my own words from my own voice brings it home to me that all I need is inside me and available to me 24/7.
One last Cheri quote on that very experience from the “It’s Time to Feel Good” email class: “…having immediate, around the clock access to the most potent source of unconditionally compassionate and accepting support you will ever receive will not only give you the life you want, it will give you a life beyond your wildest dreams.”
No wonder conditioning will do anything it can to talk us out of Recording and Listening. No wonder it hates the sound of our voice.