Silence. When you think of silence, what pops into your head? Is it a hush over a crowd? You meditating? A room with no one in it? The peace and quiet when the kids go to bed?
Silence means no sound, no noise, just quiet. It can be uncomfortable for some and bliss for others. Where do you sit on this scale? I love silence, I’ll quite happily sit and enjoy the peace and quiet. The hustle and bustle of real life can be demanding and really be hard going. just sitting still, reading a book helps me to get my mind away from the the hustle and bustle.
Silence can make you feel lonely and secluded. The last few years have highlighted that there are many people out there, who without their community or friends and family to meet and connect with feel very alone and isolated. This kind of silence is frightening, we never want to feel this way or indeed have others feel like this. If you know someone who lives on their own or indeed who is quite secluded in their location. Check in on them from time to time, take them out for a cuppa and a chat or a drink. But remember just because someone is alone doesn’t always mean they are lonely. They might be quite happy to be on their own and enjoy their kind of silence.
How do you feel about silence in conversations?
Eek! It can be quite unnerving when you are in a job interview and the silence is that space for you to fill with your experience and knowledge. You may take a deep breath and recount the time you dealt with a problem well or when you ran a project which completed ahead of schedule. Each silent moment in this conversation is an opportunity for you to sell yourself and say why you are capable of doing the job.
What about silence in a conversation with your friend, colleague, relative when it’s about mental health? Is that uncomfortable? Is it ok?
Now the chances are when you are talking to someone and asking them how they are doing, you are not asking them directly ‘How is your mental health today?’ You will ask them generally how they are doing and in the usual way you will get the ‘I’m fine’ response. So how can you get more information from them, particularly if you notice a difference in their demeanor, mood, how they generally are from day to day. You know something isn’t quite right, but aren’t quite sure how to pull that information from them.
It is difficult to get people to open up, some don’t know how to talk or verbalise how they are feeling. But just by talking they can get it out. They can say what they need to say. In order to talk it out they need silence.
Silence in this situation gives the person an opportunity to speak, to open up and talk about how they are feeling and what is going on in their lives. It also gives you the space to listen. Listening without chipping in or giving your opinions, listening to what the individual has to say no matter what.
We can worry too much about what will happen when we open that door to conversation. What happens if I don’t know what to say? What happens if they get upset? What do I do if they tell me something really bad?
The common theme in that situation is you. But this isn’t about you. This is about them and how they are doing and coping. Open the conversation with them and ask them how they are really doing. Then give them the space (silence) to talk, let them know you are there for them. You can listen or sit in silence but whatever they need to do or say, then let them know they are not alone. You are there to support them.
Silence in this situation can feel daunting, particularly if you are the one to fill that moment. Take it, say what you need to say. This is your time to say what is on your mind and how you are feeling. If the other person is giving you the space, then take it. They want to support you and want to listen.
Giving anyone the time and space to talk can make a huge difference. They want to be heard but often don’t know how to begin. By letting them occupy the silence it gives them breathing space to talk and say what they need too. We need to talk, we need to say what is going, by opening up and saying how we feel, no, how we really feel will empower others to do the same.
Never be afraid to talk and fill the silence. Silence truly is golden in this situation. By listening to those talking, you are giving them time and space to say what they need to.
This week, take time to ask your colleagues, friends or family how they are truly feeling, then let them speak. Don’t be afraid of the silence. You will be surprised how easily it will be filled.
Take care, have a great week and look after you!
Love Emma xx