The underrated power of silence
In a world where we are faced with a constant barrage of stimulation and feel the need to express our thoughts and feelings about everything, silence is often perceived in a negative light. It can be mistaken for defeat, awkwardness, a lack of opinion, or it can project a sense of indifference and inactivity. Silence has many redeeming qualities – when harnessed appropriately, it can project confidence and empathy, allow us to be more connected to our own feelings and give us a welcome pause from our busy lives. Below are some of the ways we can benefit from incorporating silence in our daily lives.
- Introspection: We live in a society where everyone is quick to offer their feelings and opinions – and often, their judgment – on every aspect of our lives as it unfolds. Sometimes this leaves very little opportunity for us to truly explore why we feel a certain way or why we even have a specific viewpoint regarding a situation. Quiet moments allow us to truly reflect on our thoughts, be attuned with our own minds, and create opportunities for growth. It helps us be more mindful of our surroundings and ultimate shapes us into more authentic and sincere individuals.
- Creativity: We often get caught up in filling every minute of our time trying to be productive – as soon as we finish one task or solve one problem, we find ourselves tied up in the next. This relentless onslaught can be overwhelming and exhausting. Amid all the chaos, even taking 5 minutes of our time to spend in uninterrupted silence can help increase our focus and concentration, offer the opportunity to consider perspectives we had not entertained before, and even allow for creativity and inspiration to flood in.
- Conflict resolution: We have all been in situations where simple disagreements ended up escalating into horrible fights, with both parties often losing sight of the real reason for the argument. When faced with a confrontation, it can be very easy to either rush to defend yourself or lash out in anger and hurt. Even trying to fix a heated situation can sometimes make it worse. In times like these, remaining silent will probably be the most effective way to deescalate the situation and ensure you that you do not end up saying something in the heat of the moment, which you will later regret. It also gives both parties the opportunity to absorb and reflect on the exchange and revisit the situation in the future in a more calm, respectful, and productive way.
- Empathy: When engaging in conversation, we often wait for our turn to speak, and in our eagerness, can inadvertently cut off someone before they have had the chance to finish. Or, when listening to someone talk about a difficult or emotional situation, we often jump in with our solutions or advice. Not only can this be perceived as impolite, but it also makes the other person feel unheard. Silence can be used as a tool to demonstrate empathy by creating a safe space that allows the other person to express themselves fully without being afraid of judgement. It also gives us the chance to observe many non-verbal cues that can tell us more about the person we are conversing with. Ultimately this helps us be better listeners and can improve the quality of relationships in our lives.
- Relaxation: Needless to say, silence can often provide a welcome respite from our bustling daily lives, allowing the mind to relax and recharge. Calming the mind and taking slow, deep breaths can lower heart rate and blood pressure, and alleviate stress and anxiety and physical exhaustion. Being in a more peaceful state of mind ultimate helps us reflect and focus on what is truly important in our lives and prioritize our actions and efforts accordingly.