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As we learned the particular words and grammar of the language

of our parents,
caretakers, or others around us, we also learned all the nonverbal
musical sounds of
their languagethe volume, tempo, rhythm, timbre, intonation,
hesitation, regional
accent, emotional inflection, etc.
For instance, when you hear the voice of a stranger, you can
determine with close
to 100% accuracy if they are male or female, using these tonal
cueseven though
you may have no idea what aspects of tonality you are using to
do this. And when
you answer the phone, usually you can identify who it is by their
tonality after hearing
only a few words.
Pause right now to remember and listen to the voices of several
people you
know. Recall them one at a time, and hear the distinct tonality
that each one uses.
First recall the voice of one of your parents, . . .
(Three dots [. . .] indicates a pause for you to actually do the
instruction, and
notice what you experience.You will only really learn from this
book if you pause
for a few moments to try each little experiment.)
Now hear the voice of your other parent, . . .
And then recall the voices of several other important people in
your past, . . .
And then some good friends of yours in the present. . . .
Notice how each voice has a distinct tonality. Unless you are
musically trained,
it might be very hard for you to describe exactly how those voices
differ, but you
can still hear the differences clearly. Now listen to each voice that
you just heard, in
turn, and notice how your feelings change in response to each
voice. . . .
Those feelings are partly in response to the words that you heard.
But they are
also in response to the unique tonality of each voice, and to the
experiences that

you associate with each of those people.

If we were fortunate, our parents were usually kind, nurturing,
and understanding,
and through imitation we learned to have inner voices that sound
kind and
understanding. If we were less lucky, we may have learned to talk
to ourselves in
a tone that is usually critical, distant, gloomy, dismissive, or even
And since even the most wonderful parents are sometimes tired,
frustrated, irritable,
limited, or out of choices, all of us also have memories of times
when our
parents communicated in ways that were less than ideal. Since
this often occurred
in situations that stirred strong emotions in us, these may have
become strong
imprint experiences that affect us throughout our later life
even if most of the
time our parents spoke in more caring and reasonable ways.
Every other book on negative self-talk I have seen focuses
primarily on the
words that we say to ourselves, seldom on the tonality.Yet the
tonality of a voice
is often a major factor in how we respond to it. For instance, hear
a voice that says,
I love you, in a harsh, sarcastic voice. . . . Then hear a voice
saying, You son-ofvi