Singing can prompt an amazing release of emotions for the singer and hopefully for the listener. It can spark imagination, trigger ideas, inspire courage, or simply make you feel good. It can help you grieve and rejoice, relieve stress, vent frustration, make you all warm, fuzzy, and cozy and get you in the mood to kick your assets in a positive direction.
The Voice Of Emotional Health
It’s the emotional well-being of the singer that I’d like to address. Life will often hurl some major stones in the paths you follow and the roads you run to gain opportunities to engage an audience. You will likely face detours, missed exits, traffic jams, plus you’ll need lots of positive energy to do the paving – ok, I could go even further overboard with metaphors, but I’m sure you get the picture.
In order to get where you want and need to be you must maintain a healthy sense of emotional well-being. You will likely hear “no” more often than “yes” and it will drag you down from time to time.
We all have down days or trying times. It’s part of life. So, it’s important to have some practical coping mechanisms in place to help you push through those dark, frustrating times when you feel hopeless, helpless, or perhaps even worse.
We’ve talked about cultivating and maintaining circles of connections. These are vital for networking, emotional support, sharing ideas, strengthening your faith, growing as an artist and as a person. In many ways, these circles of connections are the wheels that get you down the road to your singing success.
But there may be times when you still feel isolated or like nobody understands or has been through what you have to face. Sometimes you’re simply worn out. You know, those times where even your faith seems feeble or forced at best.
A Healthy Survival Tool
Here is a simple tool you can use, adapt and apply as it makes sense to you. It’s something that can be engaged in the depths of despair or practiced as a periodic reminder to keep things in perspective. And one of its side benefits is that it exercises your communication skills at its deepest, purest heart-felt level.
My goofy pet name for it is: a plate full of grateful. I started “passing” it nearly 20 years ago when I had reached a point of utter darkness that I feared would snuff out my life. At the time I had also shut out everybody in my life that was supportive, encouraging, or helpful, because things seemed so hopeless. So what happened to turn things around?
I was sitting at a huge, folding table in the guest house where I lived in Los Angeles staring at an empty plate, some Sharpie markers, and a stack of blank copy paper.
For me, I believe it’s the Creator that drew a circle of connection between those three items that prompted the shift from giving up to reaching out.
I decided to make a list of ten things I was grateful for. And then I would write a note or make a phone call to give thanks in some way for each of these things.
What I noticed was that as I engaged the process, my attention began to sputter-shift from darkness to sparks or flickers of light. By the time I had my list of ten items I was both worn out and modestly hopeful.
I took a break and wrote a letter to an artist whose work had moved me. I learned about the artist through my brother in Virginia who is a disabled veteran. So, writing the thank you note to the artist became a celebration of her and my brother. What I remember is that these connections emerged that seemed to help flip the breaker switches in my emotional circuitry so to speak.
The sweet surprise in all this was a handwritten letter that arrived from that artist, a singer-songwriter, several months later. She thanked me for my letter; and then, she thanked me for her mother’s Christmas gift. It turns out that for whatever reason the letter I wrote moved the artist and prompted her to read it to her mom. The artist then had that letter framed and gave it to her mom as a Christmas gift.
I tell you all this because I have seen very talented people give up because it hurt too much or because they felt nobody cared or it was impossible. I also tell you this because it’s important to stay grateful, be thankful, get other-oriented, and move forward for the sake of the unique gifts you have to communicate and share.
Give Thanks For Listening
Sometimes you may have an audience of only a few. Other times you’ll fill the house. And yes, many times it will be an audience of one, where it is you who needs to be moved to tears, laughter, and those warm fuzzies.
Make your lists, send your notes or emails, text or tag somebody; extend your gratitude however you feel is best for those you want to reach. Pass your plate full of grateful. I hope this helps.