Resolving conflict creatively through sound

Have you ever had your mouth washed out with soap?
I have. And it’s been my dirty little secret.
I remember when I was eight or nine years old answering my dad’s refusal to let me change my dinner seat, because my left handed eating would constantly bump into my mom’s right handed eating. It was a small table.My dad would say,
“Don’t talk to your father like that.”OR if you don’t like something, you should not say it but just be polite and shut your mouth…”children should be seen and not heard”.
Have you ever held your tongue lest expressing your truth get you into bigger trouble?
OR have you ever gotten to the breaking point, blown up, only to regret it later on?
As children, most of us learned to deal with authority and with conflict in not so direct ways.
In my house, I learned that if I didn’t want to get my mouth washed out with soap, I’d better learn to tow the line. I developed a “nice” persona, and inwardly, resolved to never let anyone have too much control over me.
It actually served me to be independent. I could never have left the US for France, and made this dramatic shift of life to Israel, if I did not have those isolating tendencies. That’s the silver lining.
So how do you deal with conflict and express your feelings?
So you might be a bit indirect – So what’s the big deal? Polite is good, no?Well, you may “get along”, but you end up paying a heavy price in the way of dull inner anxiety, and mistrust of your true feelings and openly expressing them. This doesn’t bode too well for intimate meaningful relationships, whether personal or professional.When we’re either dishonest or overeactive,
we undermine our own integrity within ourselves.
We undermine our self trust,
and we undermine trust in our relationships.
Today, while our technology connects us to one another more and more, ever has there been such a widespread epidemic of indirect and indirect ways of dealing with conflict and human communication.
We see countless ways of this manifesting itself today. Kids keep their faces hidden in their smart phones, Yound and old alike communicate through texting, which is so easy to misinterpret. When a misunderstanding or conflict arises, it’s much easier to react in fight or flight mode – that old standby knee jerk reaction to fear.Speaking of responding to fear, I have noticed that some people deal with it much better than others. Those who use their voices consciously, seem to have an easier time dealing with the discomfort of distant wounds which come up to the surface.
When I was preparing for my TEDx talk, I worried about bringing up the subject of having soap put down my mouth. Was I just stirring up old wounds that I’d already dealt with, to make

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a point. Would I alienate my family? I sensed it was important, but secretly I felt like a black sheep, the only one who suffered such humiliation.

So how do you find that growth and freedom to deal with conflict more effectively?
I decided to use my voice consciously:
1) The simple humming exercise I used gave me the courage to speak up – especially while I was preparing my presentation.
2) Stopping and connecting with the fear – and not running from it – helped me to see the situation more objectively. I decided to risk it and share.
To my surprise, when I consciously spoke about this outloud, I was astounded to discover that not only was I not the only person on earth to have experienced this, but it was a very common disciplinary practice in the 50s and 60s.Taking a moment to be aware of your feelings and needs before you communicate and humming to yourself to calm yourself down can help you be more effective,clear and direct.Recently, I had the chance to see how well I could walk the talk.
Three days ago my TEDx talk was published. Yesterday I got up the courage to mail it to my entire family. This is the real litmus test.My cousin wrote, and I felt a familiar feeling of shock – and went into that powerless, helpless, shamed little girl sort of moment. Then, all my years of training kicked in:I stopped, did the humming exercise, and asked myself,
“How do I feel? and What do I need?” and I gathered the courage to open his mail, which said
“You forgot to send the mail address”.I didn’t get my mouth washed out with soap.I mailed the address, and he made a comment underneath the video clip, which I hope you will too.
What’s your experience?
Leave a comment below.

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