Are you holding yourself back?
I started taking professional vocal lessons recently and it has got me thinking a lot about insecurities. This is a topic that I have tried to address several times in my writing but with the help of my teacher I have discovered a new dimension of my own struggles with this issue. Insecurity can be a really difficult thing to deal with as an artist but if you can get to the source and work with the underlying causes, some serious healing will be waiting at the other end.
Even though I can sing relatively well and have been performing for many years, I somehow never noticed how much I have been holding back. This, I came to see, isn’t because of poor breathing techniques or a lack of range, it’s because of tension. I have been holding an insane amount of tension in my jaw as well as my upper chest and shoulders and because of this, I restrict my vocal capacity.
What was interesting about this realization was the emotions that correspond with that restricted posture. I could see that when I let that tension go and sang from a deeper, more resonant place in my body, I was exposing myself and allowing a kind of vulnerability. By releasing my jaw, relaxing my belly and assuming this open posture, I was allowing the air in my lungs to flow uninhibited but at the same time, I was also allowing my emotions to rise to the surface. It was a crazy feeling that immediately flicked on a lightbulb of understanding for me. I saw that the tension I hold in my body is largely due to an unacknowledged level of self-consciousness.
If you know me, you will understand that this was kind of a startling revelation. I’ve always been a pretty expressive person and have never really had a problem with speaking my mind or with being exposed, but when I looked closely, there it was. Insecurity was staring directly into my eyes and I was unconsciously pushing it away with bodily tension.
As a singer, you are constantly exposing your inner-self through your lyrics but also (and maybe even more so) through the tone of your voice. There is a ton of emotion that is communicated through the tone and delivery of speech and it is amplified many times when you turn that speech into song. For a lot of us, this level of openness can be too much to handle and so we restrict our full potential as a form of protection.
Taking this lesson allowed me to see that my trouble isn’t with hitting the notes, it’s with allowing my body to connect with them on an emotional level. All of my limitations are self-imposed and are easily over come by acknowledging the problem and being brave enough to go all in.
This, I believe, is the case with most all of our perceived inadequacies and limitations. We place restrictions on our own development because of a fear of failure or rejection. If we can just get beyond this fear and accept ourselves for who and what we are, right now, the truth becomes obvious-we are only limited by our motivation and our imagination. If we are motivated enough to put our full capacity into whatever we are doing, without worrying about failure or judgement, we will quickly see that we are in fact limitless!