• JDK Wyneken

A Voice (Do) Over

The internet is awash with memes, inspirational videos, and social media posts about the importance of “finding one’s voice.” Others say it’s not about “finding” it, but actually learning to “use” it. Literary figures, too, love talking about voice (you know what I mean). Henry Wadsworth Longfellow mused that, “the human voice is the organ of the soul,” while the poet Rumi went even more mystical with, “there is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen.” These sayings are everywhere, and after a while it can be easy to tune them out or give them the classic eye roll.

I get why that happens, but I also know that I’d rather those reminders be out there en masse than not at all. Because I know what it is like to not have a voice. Or, more accurately, to not trust or use the one I have - and have always had.

I didn’t realize this about myself until the past decade, as I’ve talked about in the first few episodes of my podcast. It’s been a work-in-progress since then, but I began the process with the help of my first ever guest on “Building From the Bullet Hole” - Dr. Hilarie Cash, LMHC, Ph.D, who is now the co-founder and Chief Clinical Officer of reSTART, an innovative treatment center for internet, video game, and screen addictions. The reSTART program has garnered a lot of international attention over the past few years, with featured articles in London’s The Guardian newspaper and appearances on NPR, CBS News, NBC’s Today show, National Geographic, and ESPN. Working with teens from 13 - 18 years old and with adults of all ages, reSTART is literally saving lives, giving people the chance to do what I’m doing - rebuilding life on far healthier terms.

But I didn’t meet Hilarie through reSTART. I met her when she was still in private practice as a therapist working with people facing a wider variety of addictions and emotional challenges, and she is the person I credit with getting me started on the path to finding / understanding / using my “voice.” Among our many conversations over the years, she introduced me to Voice Dialogue, a therapy treatment that focuses on having our different inner “selves” converse with one another. This process showed me just how destructive my self-talk had been since childhood, and it also helped me better understand that I could choose what self-messages to act on and which ones to ignore.

It’s a long story, but it suffices to say here that Voice Dialogue taught me that my feelings needed to be felt and acknowledged, but I actually could choose how to respond to them. These revelations got me so excited that I dove into much more of the psychology and science involved in emotional intelligence, and I’m much happier and healthier today as a result.

I owe Hilarie a whole lot for that, so I am excited to introduce her to you in Episode Four of my podcast (available on March 11!).

Without this work and Hilarie’s help, it isn’t an overstatement to say that Krelle’s Inferno would never have been written. I wouldn’t have developed the confidence or the ability to listen to the creative voice in me. The voice that has always wanted to write this novel. I wouldn’t have been able to write the book as I did, a character study of one man’s inner emotional journey, without having one myself. The book’s main character wouldn’t have emerged as he did without me having an inner path for him to follow. Finding our own voices first is a prerequisite to doing anything creative that we put out into the world - we have to take those daring steps internally first before we can share them with the outside world.

“Finding” the voice(s) to write my book required me to trust my own first in everyday life. It took - and takes - daily practice, the intention (sometimes even spoken aloud) to focus on what serves me in life and in my own self-talk. It was a slog for longer than I care to remember, but the work was worth it; the help of Hilarie and others you will meet in future episodes will show you how and why.

Enjoy the conversation, and be sure to check out reSTART if you or anyone you know might be struggling with internet, video game, or screen addiction; it could be the best help you ever dread and decide to accept.

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