I developed a bad habit years ago: I talk over people. This habit came about somewhat as a survival technique. When I was in high school I hung out with a group of friends who were highly talkative. The only problem was I felt like I could never get a word in edgewise as I didn’t want to interupt anyone. I finally expressed this frustration with my friends and they offered up this solution: just start talking in the midst of a conversation and eventually they’ll get the cue and stop talking to listen to me. I was a little tentative at first but eventually got the hang of it and this seemed to work for everyone.
Unfortunately this carried on into my adult life and I use it in many situations. It happened this week with my husband. I hadn’t even realized I’d done it until he brought it up afterwards.
And I felt terrible for doing it.
I don’t want to overpower or silence anyone’s voice.
And yet I wonder if there is something deeper going on for me. Am I afraid of losing my “voice”? That somehow I will not be heard. Or that there will be no opportunity to express myself unless I “barge in” on the conversation. And if I lose my “voice”, then my “story” cannot be told or heard. And if that happens, will I lose a sense of my identity? Will I feel that I am worth-less and that my “story” is not important.
But I want to feel worth something, that I have value in this world and in my relationships. I wonder if this is what happens to people who truly do lose their “voice” (or never had one). Whether it is a result of gender or race or socio-economic status, they have no “space” to tell their “story” and so experience feelings of worthlessness.
I am not one of those extreme cases. And yet because my “voice” had no “space” to be heard by the people close to me (and not just with my friends but moreso with my family), I felt worthless. Empathy goes a long way. Unfortunately I did not experience much of that growing up.
And so here I am, at 40 years of age, with this unconscious fear that my “story” is not important (that I am not important) and it propels me to override conversations in an attempt to maintain my sense of self-worth.
I can only say that, hopefully, with a greater understanding of what is going on at the unconscious level, I can start to “unlearn” this bad habit and learn how to tell my “story” and honour everyone else’s “stories” as well.