“Become responsive to the solicitations of silence.”
—Jean Klein, 20th Century French author and philosopher
Image from Unsplash by Nick Fewings
I am writing this post in my favorite chair in my upstairs office, with only the sound of my furnace operating in the background. As it kicks off only occasionally due to the recent frigid temperatures, I can now hear the slight sound of the ceiling fan that circulates the warm air.
Although I very much enjoyed the busy holidays with family and friends, I also have a strong desire and need for solitude and silence to regroup and re-balance. These cycles of extroversion and introversion feel like the beating of my heart and the pace of my breathing during and after a workout.
How loud and noisy is your life?
How and when do you explore the sounds of silence to discover the hidden messages between notes?
Consider reading or re-reading Susan Cain’s wonderful book—Quiet—for some additional perspective on this topic.
“When your rage is choking you, it is best to say nothing.”
—Octavia E. Butler, late American science fiction author
Image from Unsplash by Brett Jordan
How familiar are you with the Heimlich maneuver? You’ve probably seen it performed on TV in both dramatic and comedic situations. Did you know that you can even perform a variation of this procedure on yourself?
Dislodging an item of food to reopen an airway to breath is serious stuff. Sometimes, however, we find ourselves choking with strong emotions that, if released, can make a situation far worse.
Where have you or others in your life opened mouths and inserted feet or caused other difficulties?
Where and when is it best to say nothing when choked with rage or other strong emotions?
“Think all you speak, but speak not all you think. Thoughts are your own; your words are so no more.”
—Patrick Delany, 18th Century Irish clergyman
Image from Unsplash by Kai Pilger
When and with whom have you learned the lesson, Silence is Golden?
Where and with whom have you learned, Loose Lips Sink Ships?
These days, it is not just the spoken word that can get us in trouble.
How many emails, texts, tweets, and posts do you put out each day?
How much time do you take before you speak or hit send?
Before you dig your own grave with your tongue or your digits, consider the wisdom in the acronym W.A.I.T. which stand for Why Am I Talking?.
Where would a few strategically placed reminders of this idea help you make sure your inner voice is not always expressed through your external speakers?
Select a close family member, friend, or colleague with whom your intention and efforts will make the biggest difference.
“Let us keep our silent sanctuaries, for in them the eternal perspectives are preserved.”
—Etienne Pivert de Senancour, 19th Century French essayist and philosopher
Image from Unsplash by David Edelstein
Where do you go to do a little soul searching? Where are the silent sanctuaries in which you can reflect on the most important aspects of your life? How often and how much time do you commit to these inner journeys?
Our new home in Pennsylvania has a loft that, with a set of two doors closed, provides for the silence and solitude I seek to do some of my most valuable reflective work. I’ve also found that walking in the very early morning hours makes most places a silent sanctuary to examine one’s eternal perspectives.
What are some of your own silence-seeking strategies and tactics that you preserve and protect to recharge and do your most important work? Please reply to this post with the approaches that work best for you.
“The word ‘listen’ has the same letters as the word ‘silent.’”
—Alfred Brendel, Austrian pianist, poet and author
Image from Unsplash by Jodie P.
How high would you rate yourself in the category of listening?
How close do you come to the two-to-one ratio implied by the fact that you have two ears and only one mouth?
What makes this skill so very difficult?
Perhaps it has to do with the fact that we almost always listening to our own inner thoughts and opinions instead of granting others the respect and honor of our silence and full attention.
With whom in your personal or professional communities would it make the biggest difference if you silenced your inner voice and listened far more deeply?
“Work hard in silence. Let success be your noise.”
—Frank Ocean, American singer/songwriter
Image from Unsplash by Glenn Carstens-Peters
I hope you love your life. I hope all your personal and professional efforts are rewarding in themselves, and that there is no need to brag or boast to call attention to your successes. After all, tooting your own horn can often backfire in our world of considerable judgement.
Ask yourself the following questions regarding your current work efforts:
- How much impact, influence, and say do I have in my work?
- How much am I learning, growing, and bettering myself through my work?
- What difference, contribution, and purpose does my work provide to others in my various communities?
Take one minute tonight after you brush your teeth to look in a mirror and reflect on all your silent successes. You may notice how others in your world often toot your horn for you.
“Speak your truth even if your voice shakes.”
Image from Unsplash by Ricardo Mancia
“Cowards die many times before their deaths,” said the lead character in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, using the metaphor of death to describe how a person feels when they avoid or run away from a challenge.
In such circumstances, we all die a little when we shrink back from the core values and personal truths that are the basis of our personal power and character.
Where and on what personal or professional matters have you been silent? When has fear of failure or being judged by others stopped you from stepping up and voicing your truth?
What has this silence cost you? What would be possible if you spoke up even with a bit of shaking?