Our brains are always looking for clues to help them determine how secure we feel in our surroundings.
One of the big indicators of how safe we feel is the pitch, volume, and speed of our speech.
Throughout nature, and the world in general, fast, high-pitched sounds are designed to get our attention. They are a sign of fear and/or danger. Think of a crying baby, a car alarm, an emergency siren….these are all high-pitched noises that tell us “something is wrong”. Our brains have been wired to respond to these types of sounds with swift attention since the beginning of mankind. They make us wake up, become alert, and take action. So any time you are speaking in a tone that is louder, faster or higher pitched than your “normal” tone, chances are your brain is going to suspect something could be wrong and keep you more keyed up and “alert” than you normally are. Our easily excitable nervous systems don’t need anything keeping us any more keyed up than we already are naturally, so we need to do ourselves a favor and focus on keeping our speech steady, even and at a reasonable volume.
I am a generally anxious person. I easily startle, I carry myself tensely, and speak very loud and fast in a high-pitched voice. Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Do I carry myself tensely and have a high-pitched voice because my nervous system is wired very sensitively? Or is my nervous system wired very sensitively because of how I carry myself and speak?
Probably a little bit of both.
All I know for certain, is that when I make a mindful, conscious effort to slow my speech down, relax my “voice muscles” and throat, and use my lower, more natural tone of voice – I always feel more relaxed and in control of myself and my anxiety symptoms are lessened. I have much more confidence in myself and overall, just feel better.
Aren’t sure of your natural tone of voice?
Try humming. Some speech experts say that when you hum, you usually gravitate toward your natural pitch. You will know when you find it. It will feel “right”. Don’t overthink it.
Once you find your right pitch, focus on staying out of your head when you speak. Use your diaphragm instead of your head and neck muscles to put your voice out there, and slow down how quickly you speak. When you slow your rate of speech down, it almost always automatically drops the pitch of your voice keeping you from having to constantly “try” to stay in the right range.
Focus on this affirmation for one week and really focus on healthier speech patterns. See if it doesn’t make a difference for you!