Interview with Anna Bridges about the benefits of Voice Dialogue Training


"One of the most revolutionary things for me was this deep validation of the energetic exchange with people..."


VDI: What kinds of life changes have you been experiencing since you began working with Voice Dialogue?


Anna:  I had a profound experience when a close family member came to visit. In the past, I had all kinds of expectations of him, so I never really engaged with him in the present. Instead I was seeing him from the perspective of my selves and their chronic disappointment.


This visit was different! After doing so many sessions there is something else now in my system, another player inside myself that is outside the dynamic and can see it. WOW! Wonder and curiosity! It was as if I was meeting this person for the first time, not visiting with someone I'd known my whole life.


I started to realize that maybe a whole new relationship is possible with this person that never seemed possible before. There's someone new inside me that has space to feel the reaction, not just be the reaction. I see those same parts of me and what they are experiencing, but now I know that's only a part of me freaking out and not at all the whole of who I am.


The most striking thing after that feeling was that I looked at him sitting in the chair and thought, "Wow! Who are you? I never looked at you with a sense of wondering who you are. I always thought I knew!" This was all just in me, non-verbal, my realization, but my internal change really shifted our connection with each other to a more alive place.


VDI: That seems like a big change, and the remarkable part is the shift inside yourself really created shift in your outer reality as well.


Anna: One of the biggest shifts is in my most intimate relationships where I used to struggle with feeling sort of numb. I wasn't feeling my emotions in real time. Now I can actually feel the aliveness of my being while life is happening, and I don't have to shut down after the feeling breaks through. What is so different now is that I feel the emotions of my inner selves, and simultaneously I'm able to build the capacity to hold it, to build a container for those emotions... not just let loose with feelings.


Now I can feel things and now I can show up in a relationship even if the other person can't feel me or hold me in the moment. The container I am building for myself can still hold it. When I put my reactions out there, it's more that I'm testing the strength of my own container rather than testing the relationship (or the other person). Each foray into expression there is a relief that it doesn't depend on the other person - that always felt so precarious before.


VDI: Do these changes in your personal relationships spill over into other aspects of your life as well?


Anna: There have been big changes in regard to my work as well. I was always on a roller coaster chasing highs - moments in the work day when someone approved of, appreciated what I had done, moments where I was praised. Those moments were inevitably followed by the depths of thinking I had done something wrong, dreading disapproval or rejection of what I offered.


(Continuing from Newsletter)


Then one day I had a moment of just feeling neutral. People liked what I contributed, and I thought, "Oh good. I'm glad it was a good fit." I was glad that they liked it, but I didn't take it personally. It wasn't about me.


Later in the week something I did bombed, and I just thought, "Oh well, that wasn't a good match. Let's try again." I didn't take that personally either. It seemed like a steady state rather than the roller coaster I had been on. I wasn't dependent on other people's evaluations of what I'm doing in the same way as I used to be. It's not every day, but there are lots more of those steady state neutral moments as a direct result of creating a new consciousness about all the parts of my personality - using their abilities without getting stuck in being any one of them.


VDI: Overall, what would you say is most important to you about your work with Voice Dialogue?


Anna: One of the most revolutionary things for me was this deep validation of the energetic exchange with people - validation that it is real and that it really matters. Managing my own energy is a way of cultivating accountability not just for me, for my own energy management, but for ultimate responsibility in relationship with others. 


What's amazing is this is a skill, and one can actually learn it. There are concrete exercises that Miriam and Cassandra teach in the training. It was a revelation for me that energetic (non-verbal) communication is not nebulous or mysterious.


Learning more about energetic connection between myself and others and energetic communication is also a deep confirmation of the little one in me who is exquisitely attuned to energies and knows when the energy she feels with a person doesn't match what they say.


VDI: So, the invisible part of communication, what isn't being said, has become more obvious and alive to you.


Anna: I am realizing now because I can read the energy accurately, I can validate my own experience and don't have to wait for acknowledgment from the other person. This puts a totally new spin on the idea of agency for me, and it also follows a deep knowing of what I need to do to take care of myself moment to moment. Recently I was able to be with a friend and listen to her reaction to me without having any idea how to cross what seemed to be a huge space between us.


Despite not getting any acknowledgment from my friend in the moment, the vulnerable parts of me didn't ratchet up their intensity in wanting to be heard. For the first time, I was there for them. I knew how to be with myself, and that gave me space to think, "Oh hang on! I can do something! I know how to be with these parts of myself." I could look and see "What do I need in this moment? What's up with my friend in this moment?" In the end, we actually had a conversation about what was going on with each of us, and I realized what was going on with me didn't ultimately have much to do with her. What was really revolutionary for me is that I stayed connected with her, stayed present. I didn't withdraw, I didn't suppress my reactions, and I didn't accommodate or try to "make nice." This is totally new!