Silence Is the Gift of Being: Learning to Love the Quiet

We need Quiet Time.

As a society, we hate silence. We play music in the background of coffee shops and grocery stores. We fill “awkward silences” with small talk and mindless chatter. We even go so far as to say that quiet people “have no personality”, or regard them with suspicion because “it’s always the quiet ones”. But why? Why do we do we find silence so eerie?

Is it because silence is so rare?

We live in a world filled with noise. Cars passing on the freeway, neighbors mowing their lawns, kids playing in the cul-de-sac, a dog barking down the road, and even the sound of laundry swishing in the tub constantly assault our ears at all hours of the day. If you live in a city or suburb, you cannot escape the sound of other people living. It is only late at night or early in the morning while the rest of the world is asleep that we experience silence.

We only experience silence when we are alone.

Even the sound of a partner breathing at night reminds us that someone else is there. True silence requires solitude. Maybe that’s why so many people fear it. When we are separated from the noise of other people- whether artificial from music or natural from the sound of others talking- we are alone with our thoughts. We cannot drown out the sound of our own inner voice. Instead we have to listen internally. And that makes many of us uncomfortable.

Quiet moments force us to reflect.

There is a reason the phrase “peace and quiet” exists. Silence offers the rare opportunity to reacquaint yourself with yourself, the self buried underneath the exterior mask. It offers us the space and time- free from distraction and outside influence- to listen to your own mind and body. To become attune to their existence and their needs. This is a form of meditation, but it is not always intentionally done. In fact, many people actively avoid these moments in fear of discomfort. They don’t want to be left alone with the stranger within.

Too many of us our strangers to ourselves.

Intimate knowledge of ourselves require facing our flaws, our traumas, and our needs. If you refuse to look inward meet with yourself, your inner-self will rise to meet you. Quiet moments are the perfect time for them to make themselves known. Drowning out our demons with distractions can only work for so long. Perhaps insomnia is a common symptom of mental illness for this reason; our inner selves create the silent moments they need to be heard.

Comfort with silence doesn’t come naturally to all of us.

Maybe that’s why so many distrust quiet people; they already seem comfortable with silence. But being quiet allows us to listen. It allows us to observe and to learn. This is something I struggle with; listening. Many of us want to be heard, but few of us want to hear. Our voices are a gift, but so are our ears. By always trying to get the last word in, or say the right things, we should appreciate that there are times where there is nothing to say. Sometimes we say the most by not saying anything at all.

Silence is the gift of being.

It is the freedom of existing with no purpose but to be ourselves. It is the opportunity to stop hearing, but to actually listen. It is the luxury of being alone with yourself as yourself. It is the door to a richer, fuller, healthier life, if we learn to embrace instead of fear it.

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