So, I sing to myself a lot, and one thing that really frustrates me is that I cannot even reliably hit a middle C. (I'm male.) This is basically unacceptable to me even for ordinary shower-singing. Now after I'm a little warmed up, the highest note I've ever convinced myself I actually got was an Eb4. Now I see a lot of websites saying that you can damage your voice permanently (scary!) by straining too much. I think I might be doing this, since typically it hurts a little after any amount of time around middle C. Is there any way to determine if my voice is already damaged? One thing: if I'm ever able to reach, say, D4, it's only if I have a lot of breath and sing it loudly; it'll never come out if I try it soft.
When I search "how to sing higher" the most common advice is to 1) avoid falsetto and 2) avoid straining. That's like teaching someone to jump higher by telling them to 1) avoid cheats, like trampolines and 2) avoid jumping harder than you normally would; just jump naturally. Well, gee, I don't think I'll get any higher then! Any help?