Speak only if it improves upon the silence.
A few years ago my husband asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day. I told him an entire day, or weekend alone - in complete and utter silence. My husband looked at me dumbfounded, and instead of a weekend of pure bliss, I parented, cooked, cleaned, hosted family and went hiking - I will be fully transparent here, I was not a happy woman. My husband has since learned that what I cherish most, more than spa treatments, flowers, chocolates, and even ice cream, is silence.
Silence is not something I experience often, in fact, most people don’t. Even if you are not a mother or a father, you may have pets, or parents, or work obligations, etc.
But, with three children, silence is something I cherish, and when I have an opportunity to steal a few moments, guilt often takes over and ruins the moment.
If this sounds like you, I don’t have the secret to put the guilt aside, but I can tell you that searching and discovering true stillness will help make those guilt-free moments even more rewarding.
I don’t mean being physically still, though that often comes as a byproduct - but I mean, the stillness of the mind. When I take my morning shower, if I am lucky, I am doing so without children asking me a million questions, but even in those moments my mind is racing with the to-dos of the day.
In the quieter moments of the week, which are much harder to come by since COVID - my mind is still always on - like open apps on a phone running and draining the battery in the background.
This constant pulling of energy is debilitating - and at the end of my day, I often wonder why I am so mentally exhausted, stressed out, and anxious - even after a day that wasn’t necessarily filled with tending to the constant needs of my children.
Then, the guilt creeps in again.
“I am not grateful enough...I will miss the sounds of my kids… I should be thankful I have kids and sounds…and the list goes on.”
Well, here’s the thing - I am grateful for all of those things, but I am also REALLY tired and even though I wouldn’t trade my life for all the silence in the world, a little bit of silence is something that I need, like water, and food, and sleep, to function at my best.
We live in a world that is noisy - we live in a world where being heard is being seen - and we equate sound with production and purpose. I could write for days about the psychology behind silence and why it is so important to our mental health, anxiety, production, purpose, etc.
Since there are medical reasons for silence, I know that enough people feel the same way that I do, and that you can more than likely relate to this in some way.
Silence and stillness are bucket fillers - meaning they fill our buckets when we are drained and feeling empty. But, even though they are beneficial, many people, myself included, often avoid silence or justify reasons as to why we can’t be truly still.
Being still and silent means we are not focusing on the needs of others, or listening to the latest post Malone album, or chatting with our best friend. It means we are focusing on the deepest needs of ourselves - and that level of depth, self-awareness, and reflection is terrifying.
So instead of finding silence, we turn on a podcast or a Ted talk and justify our growth and development by how we respond and react to another person’s silent discoveries.
Read that again - we pay, seek out, and listen to what other people have to say - ideas that were discovered in another person’s stillness, because we don’t want to be still and silent ourselves.
I am a professional writer, and I write in part to inspire others, meaning I hope people read and reflect on my words. But the other part of why I write is because of what I discover in the process, and the deep sense of purpose it brings me. So, let me be clear, I am not saying we shouldn’t seek out inspiring podcasts and works that enhance our personal growth and development because we should, but not without or in place of experiencing our own depths of silence.
What we discover in silence is the difference between words being nothing more than noise and words being something worth learning from.
Silence speaks volumes and silence can never be misquoted.
So - what does silence mean to you?
By now you know I love music - here is one of my FAVORITE songs of all time - yes, I like the original by Simon and Garfunkel, but Disturbed's rendition is incredible! Enjoy!