When is the last time you remember sitting in silence? Is it even possible in today’s world? Clock ticking, refrigerator humming, house creaking, birds chirruping, cars in the distance, and planes flying overhead noise is everywhere even if we are not always conscious of it.
How do you feel in silence? Do you enjoy it or do you feel uncomfortable?
We often wish for a few minutes to simply sit and be. But, when we do finally get those few minutes what do we do? We turn on music or grab our phones to check texts, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram.
Ask me how I know!
We wish for silence, but then we fill it.
Are You Afraid of Silence?
This question asked in a podcast that I listened to recently, and I had to think about it for awhile.
I’ve struggled with Tinnitus for years now. It’s an annoying ringing in the ears, that drives me crazy at times. There are times it interferes with my ability to focus or get to sleep. To help mask the ringing, I usually have some form of background noise running, like soft music, a fan running, or a great app on my phone called Noisli. Because of that, silence for me may have a slightly different meaning than for you.
As I thought about this question, however, I realized the answer is yes, there are times I’m afraid of silence. Add in feelings of overwhelm and stress, and that fear escalates.
Two Types of Noise
I think of external noise like loud music playing, video games running, TV, children playing, running, or arguing, road construction. While some may thrive in these environments, others do not and may feel overstimulated and stressed.
Oh, the joys of a brain that doesn’t stop talking. It also chatters, blames, and tries to keep that one thing you are trying not to forget in the forefront of your mind. Sometimes I think the internal noise is louder than external.
Why Are We Afraid of Silence?
While there are many reasons why let’s consider the following two:
1) We are addicted to being in motion and taking action.
Slowing down and experiencing a few minutes of silence can be a shock to the system. Our minds continue to run through our never-ending to-do-list. It sometimes screams at us that we are lazy, and not doing the important things.
2) We are afraid of our own thoughts.
If we slow down long enough to catch our breath and allow our body to catch up with our brain, we may not like what we discover.
- Relationships that are breaking
- Faith that has become stagnant
- Neglected health issues
- Habits that are not changing
- Negative self-talk that says we are not worthy of self-care
- Unrealistic comparisons to someone else who seems to have it all together
Knowing these kinds of thoughts will assault us if we sit in silence, it’s no wonder we run away from it!
3 Reasons You Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Silence
We all know that silence can feel deafening. Isn’t that a strange feeling? That the absence of noise can seem loud?
In today’s culture we don’t experience silence often so it can feel unnatural and odd, but experiencing silence is healthy and healing.
1) Silence is healing.
Learning to slow down racing thoughts helps us relax, rest, sleep better, and cut through the noise and focus on what is important.
I’ve started a new habit of making having a notebook and pen on my bedside table so I can jot down things I’m trying to remember. That way I’m not struggling not to forget and keep myself awake at night.
It’s also a good time to jot down a short list of things I’m grateful for and end my day on a positive note.
2) Silence helps us be present.
By taking a moment be still, we bring our thoughts away from the future and into the here and now. When we do that we can see what is important here and now like relationships, family, faith, and health.
3) Silence helps us hear better.
God rarely speaks in loud tones demanding our attention. He tends to speak softly, patiently waiting for us to hear. But we are usually surrounded by such loud internal and external noise we do not hear His leading and prompting. Sitting in silence with His word in our hands gives us the opportunity to hear better and trains us to listen.
And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. I Kings 19:12
It also helps us hear the needs of others better. It might be a child asking you to play or hearing the unspoken hurt in a friend that needs your understanding or listening ear. Learning to be silent helps us here these requests.
This week pay attention to those moments of silence, while standing in the grocery line, sitting in the car waiting to pick up the kids from school, or when you head to the bathroom. What is your first instinct? I bet many times it is to pick up your phone and see what is going on or what you may have missed.
Learning to be silent will not happen overnight, no new habit will. It will take time, patience, consistency and a willingness to be uncomfortable with the silence and not try to fill the space.
Keep listening for the “still small voice” If you are weary on life’s road; The Lord will make your heart rejoice If you will let Him take your load. ~ Hess
How can you practice sitting in silence this week?
Marta Goertzen is an entrepreneur, writer and nature photographer. She daily explores the trails and beaches of the South Central Oregon Coast with her buddy Bailey. You can follow along on their adventures on Instagram. She is also the author of several books including her newest, “Choosing Gratitude: A Daily Quiet Time Journal”.