Our Sound-Message™ Beginnings
Growing up, my Sound-Messages™ were like those of my family of origin, sometimes funny, more often serious or quiet, and sometimes explosive, with biting words. The explosive and biting moments were unpredictable, unbearable, and unavoidable, but we lived through them. It seemed I could not ever stop them, though. I could never guarantee I would not cause them or experience them by other people. I created Sound Messages, LLC to place boundaries between unpredictable, unbearable, unavoidable explosive biting moments and me, but also to proactively teach others to do the same. As a child, I stepped out of myself or left the area to get away from them, even when I started them. As an adult, I don't need to run away from them any more. If I hadn't run away from them or created Sound Messages, I just may have ended my life in high school, like Thomas (see blog on Cold Reality).
Mom did notice I was not home very much. Many times I came home from school to hear her and my brother yelling at each other. My body would charge up and I would drop off my books and run out the door, usually to a friend’s house, but I also rode my bike fast and far. It was our Sound-Messages™ that pushed me out. I didn’t want to speak like that; yelling at each other, but I did not know how to change or prevent that nebulous problem. It was unpredictable, but with predictable consequences and it was frightening. Many times I said to myself, “I’m not going to speak that way,” but little hints of “that way” would pop up occasionally. My nickname in high school was “Groucho”; … it was not because I was always funny. I could laugh about it, but the kernel of truth in Groucho was always there.
“John, you have a temper,” I heard in 9th grade from a good friend … at the end of our relationship. When it’s your family-of-origin’s way of “how we say what we say”, the ‘tempered’ labels are unavoidable. It can also take a long time to realize what "having a temper" meant and to understand the consequences of random acts of losing my temper. It takes energy to change how-we-say-what-we-say. It's has to become a practice to make changes in the moment and a life-long way of thinking to make them permanent. Time and patience work in our favor when we set ourselves to make a seemingly endless change that has no shape. I'm doing it. You can, too.
After we leave home, we can surround ourselves with friends and work environments who speak in a way we aspire to speak. In time we absorb the patterns of those we choose and may speak as before only when at family gatherings.
Now as an adult, I may yell too loud for the wrong reason, but not as often as before. They are mistakes and can be resolved with an apology or just an acknowledgement that it won't happen very often. At those times, I may want to run out, but knowing it is a mistake and can be avoided later keeps me at work, at school, at play and even in public spaces. Do you feel like conversations just don’t go well occasionally? Are they too loud, too harsh or too fast? It just might be your Sound-Messages™ or the Sound-Messages™ of those around you that steer your conversations and drive you away from your family or your work.
John Werner has degrees in Engineering, Music and Organization Development. He practices Sound Messages™ daily.
Have you asked someone to change the volume, tone, or speed of their words? What was the immediate result? Did you notice any change or improvement later? I learn from you, too; please share your thoughts in the comments section below.