Forget New Year’s resolutions and great expectations; start living the life you actually want, writes Laura Burgoine…

In her new book Stop ‘should-ing’ Start wanting, Charlton local Judith Quin teaches people how to replace duty with desire. The actress, coach, sound energy practitioner and massage therapist describes the book as an introduction to coaching. “It means people are making empowered choices,” she told the Weekender. “People are starting to find their voices and when you do that then you can start expressing yourself. So often people will hand in their resignation but they haven’t asked for what they want in their job.”

Holding your own truth is a vital part of the process. “It’s about knowing what you want on a level that’s true, not reactionary,” she said. “You might think ‘I want that person to stop piling work on me’ but under that is you want more autonomy. That’s the thing. It’s not a reaction to someone else. That’s the slightly deeper level.”

Classically trained as an actress, Judith says acting is all voice and body: breath work and supporting your voice. “As a massage therapist I know where people hold tension. And as a sound healer and energy worker I see how people disconnect their voice from their body; the voice gets trapped in the head and it’s about physically moving the voice into the body and feeling the vibration.”

The brain’s primal need to stay safe prevents many of us from speaking up. “Say someone knows what they want but they’re not expressing it, generally that’s because there are fears –familial, structural or societal- 85 percent of the problem is the brain telling you ‘people will judge me’, fear of the unknown, fear of being seen. The brain is saying ‘I need to stay safe or I might get kicked out of the tribe.’”

Thoughts then affect the body. As soon as the brain starts sending messages the body responds, the heart rate increases, cortisol is released, the vascular system tightens, blood pressures rises and that’s why people get breathless and sweaty.

“Body affects breath, which affects the vibration, which is the energy you walk into a room with,” the sound energy practitioner said. “Your voice is physical vibration. Vocal chords vibrate against each other to create sound. What energy do you want to take into any situation? All speaking is public speaking. The energy/vibration you go into room with is the first thing people pick up on.”

Breath is at the centre of all meditation. “When you connect to your full body it slows down the heart rate, reduces adrenaline, which sends a message to the brain that tells you: I’m safe,” Judith said. The energetic memory of stress means that if in the past speaking up was “unsafe” then we hold that in our cell memory. “Just as an opera singer can shatter glass with their voice, memory can release that emotion.”

The idea for the book came about when Judith was backpacking as a 24-year-old. “I was sitting by Lake Michigan in Chicago and thought ‘I should go to a museum’ but then I thought why? I’m traveling on my own, why should I? It got me to wondering where else do I ‘should’ in my life? I became really aware of should-ing as a concept.”

Later at age 31, Judith had gotten quite good at not ‘should-ing’ events but she was still ‘should-ing’ life. “I was single, owned nothing, I was not being the actress I wanted to be, living in a bedsit, feeling like I had nothing but then I asked myself why do I feel like I should have all these things? A few years later I trained as a coach and I came across a room full of people who weren’t shoulding. This is still such a revelation.”

“There are some things we have to do. How can I change that response to: I want to do this?” Judith continued.

This book teaches how to transform duty to desire, how to look at the consequences of the choices we make. “It’s about making things a choice. We don’t have to do anything. I don’t have to look after my Mum’s dog for three weeks but do I want him to go to a kennel? No. I want to lose a stone in weight. I don’t have to do it; I’m not morbidly obese. So do I want that slice of chocolate cake or do I want to lose the weight?”

Another important element is if you really don’t want to do something then don’t. “If you’re trying to do the conversion from desire to duty and can’t make it –then don’t,” Judith said. “Everyone has different shoulds. I always wanted to be an actress. I trained, I performed but I didn’t have the career that I wanted. I felt like I should do certain things. We look at how others have done it and compare. Or sometimes you hold onto something you really used to want just to prove to people that you could do it because giving up feels like failure even if you don’t want that thing anymore.”

The first step is finding your voice. “If you don’t know what you want, then how can you express that to other people? The first step is finding out what you want and there’s several exercises in the book to help you with that.”
Stop Shoulding and Start Wanting: How to listen to your heart, find your voice and transform duty into desire is out now at all leading bookstores and on amazon. £12 paperback, £5.75 kindle.

Judith is also the founder of Your Whole Voice