We live in a world filled with noise. If you start from the beginning of your day, think of the number of things you hear from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep. Alarm clock, dog barking, television/radio, stranger’s cell phone conversations, work telephones ringing, automobile traffic, honking horns, subway trains running, doors slamming, yelling, laughing, and millions of other things. In a world filled with noise, it’s easy to understand why we often forget the power of silence.
Finding silence in a busy life is a skill.
Because most of us are not good at sitting with silence. Think of the last time you were given the “silent treatment,” or experienced a long awkward pause in a conversation and felt like you desperately needed to fill the space. Silence can be difficult.
Before we continue, let’s explore why silence is important, and at times necessary.
Silence can have a meaningful impact on multiple aspects of your life. Harnessing silence can positively affect your work performance, interpersonal relationships, and your own mental health.
Whether we are discussing business, work, or personal relationships; at the core of every successful partnership is a foundation of trust. Who do you find you have the best working relationship with? Is it the person who is the loudest person in the room constantly talking over or interrupting others? Or is it the person who is making eye contact with the individual speaking, and listening to them without interruption?
We have all been in a situation where a person we meet is trying to establish a working relationship but ends up doing all the talking… usually about themselves. They introduce themselves, ask generic questions about you, and simultaneously communicate that they have no interest in listening to your responses.
Active listening, which includes purposeful silence conveys to others that you are interested in what they have to say and are thus interested in what they think. You are acknowledging their presence, ideas, and are communicating that you respect them and their ideas.
In any relationship conflict arises. The way you and your partner communicate your differences can make or break a relationship. For example, are you able to sit and have a calm, respectful conversation giving each person time to speak, and taking turns listening to each other? Or are you engaging in a verbal duel where you and your partner are left emotionally battered and bruised at the end? In order to have a conversation, silence is an essential part. Without silence, you’re just engaging in a monologue that is likely to get you nowhere.
Taking a breath and pausing before you respond to a question allows you to collect your thoughts before saying something you may regret. Those extra few seconds can help you see the situation differently, slow down and focus on the moment, and lead to a more loving relationship.
Overall Mental Health
Silence is important because it provides a much-needed balance to all the noise we experience daily. Silence allows us to reflect on our thoughts and feelings, and can also help us connect to our needs, wants, and desires.
Here are a few suggestions to help you find silence in your life:
- Create a quiet corner at home where you can pursue calming activities uninterrupted. Try reading, coloring, drawing, or journaling.
- Sip your morning tea or coffee outside instead of inside. Maybe on the porch, patio, or balcony. Indulge in nature and enjoy the sense of calm before beginning your day.
- If you’re feeling overwhelmed at home, work, or in other settings take a few seconds to close your eyes and breathe deeply. Limiting stimulation of your senses can help reduce stress, even if it’s only for a short while.
- Try to enjoy an evening without electronics. Just sit and relax in peace.
- Create an art piece. Make your own greeting cards, try painting, drawing, or coloring. If you’re not into drawing your own pieces, there are many free coloring pages you can print out and enjoy.
Most importantly, be creative.
“Adulting” is difficult, and at times is no fun. We all need a break from the seriousness of our everyday lives now and then. Think about activities you loved when you were younger and rekindle your inner child.