Urgent things shout, important things whisper. Listen to the whispers. – Ken Groen
How often do you sit in silence? I’m not talking about waking up at 3 a.m. with a constant stream of thoughts and to-dos creating a rachet in your head. But purposely sitting in silence with your thoughts.
It’s hard to do, especially in our constant, fast-paced world with so much to do.
I just finished reading Amy Morin’s 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do and #11 really got me. It’s not fearing alone time. “Mentally strong people can tolerate being alone and they don’t fear silence. They aren’t afraid to be alone with their thoughts and they can use downtime to be productive.”
It’s not that I fear alone time. If I can ever get it, I treasure it. Between running a business, being a mom, and traveling in an RV exploring our beautiful country, it’s rare that I’m truly alone, much less alone with my thoughts.
What I do is take alone time and make it “productive”. I’m If I’m running, I’m running with Peloton for a challenging workout. When I’m up early, I’m squeezing in work before my ADHD child comes bounding out of his room to tell me all about video games. Before bed, I’m reading.
I need to create more silence in my life. This was shown to me when I was on vacation last week in the Grand Tetons. It was my first vacation in a while where I checked out of work and purposely didn’t plan out the week.
As I was walking my dog, there was a young kid who would walk alongside me, saying nothing. The first time this happened, I kept wondering “what’s up with this kid….is he ok….why is he walking with me?”. I finally got uncomfortable and tried to talk to him. You know, that small talk we all do to fill the uncomfortable silence?
He would give me a few words but nothing more than that. After a few walks “with” him, I realized that I was the one feeling the need to fill the silence, not him.
Silence can be haunting. Silence may make us feel the things we’ve been shoving away during the day. The things that our bodies are still responding to, but we don’t want to mentally deal with.
In a culture that praises immediate responses, it can feel that we’ll be forgotten if we don’t answer that email right away, respond to that text, or comment on someone’s social media post.
Talking to a colleague this week, she told me of a time when the company emails got shut off overnight and employees were freaking out. One employee told her that the lack of emails coming in made her feel irrelevant. Another felt like they were missing out on really important information….all after hours!
Even though it may make us uncomfortable, when we get quiet, we can better assess our own needs (vs. everyone else’s), get clear on our values, and calm our overactive brain. This is especially needed with the last 18 months we’ve been through.
I’d love to hear from you –
How do you feel when it’s quiet?
If you’re good at sitting with your thoughts, what are some ways you get quiet?