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Why Do We Feel the Need to Fill Empty Spaces?

by Trisha Dunbar 5 months ago in humanity
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It's time to embrace the space...

Why Do We Feel the Need to Fill Empty Spaces?
Photo by Point3D Commercial Imaging Ltd. on Unsplash

Without meaning to sound like an alien and despite majoring in Psychology, I don’t understand humans. On one hand, we seem to crave space, but on the other hand, we have this insatiable urge to fill space with ‘stuff’!

The question is why? Why do we have such an urge to fill our spaces? It doesn’t just seem to be an individual thing either. As groups, we like to fill spaces too.

Let's use my local council as an example. In my area, we need more roads to ease congestion. So the farmer sold off some of his lands for a new road to be built. However, the council was not content with just leaving the surrounding green space, green.

No, they decided this space could fit about a thousand affordable shoe boxed-sized homes. Now, this kind of defeats the point doesn’t it? This extra road is being created due to the fact we filled all our spaces with overpopulation. Now some space has been freed-up, what did the council do overfill it again and as for the new road? It's heavily congested of course!

The Normalising of Space-Filling

Sadly. I am also a perfect example of our human need to fill space without fully understanding it myself. I fill my physical spaces with books and furniture. Recently I found some space on a wall and do you know what I did? I bought a picture frame to fill it as it looked too empty!

Now it isn’t just physical space we need to fill. How often have you been in a conversation where there has been an awkward pause? What do you feel the need to do? Fill it of course — you speak until there are no spaces left.

Over time the need to fill space has been normalised. Society has taught us to believe that empty spaces look sad and lonely. However, the old wise ancient scripts, such as the teachings of the Buddha and Stoic philosophy remind us of the importance of sitting mindfully in silence. We don’t need ‘stuff’ to be who we truly are.

Isn’t it ironic that we crave space and when we get it we rush to fill it with stuff? What’s behind this urge to fill our spaces? Why can’t we leave a space a space?

The Problem with Our Spaces

The problem with physical space is once we fill it we crave more space and it turns into an almost endless cycle of consumerism. We like to fill our physical spaces with furniture, items, and if you are like me, books.

We fill our emotional and mental spaces with social media, news, information, and even toxic thoughts which can lead to burnout. Our time space is filled with work, study, and family commitments.

When was the last time you just sat and did nothing? If you were able to sit and do nothing did this make you feel lazy? Like you should be doing something to fill this space in time?

Our in-built need to fill space can disconnect us from nature, lead to overload and stop us from connecting in meaningful ways.

What if more space to fill isn’t the answer?

It’s time to embrace the space, become comfortable with silence in conversations, and be more minimalistic in your physical and mental life. Learn to appreciate and identify the different spaces and become comfortable with emptiness.

Embracing the Void

Kenophobia is the fear of empty spaces. It certainly seems that a lot of us do have some issues with empty spaces. So much so that we rush to fill these voids with c**p.

Why do we feel the need to fill our spaces? What is it about an empty space that is just so uncomfortable?

When you are seeking to fill space externally, it’s because you are seeking to fill a void inside yourself. The external can sometimes be a direct reflection of what we truly feel like inside.

Often when physical space is filled with clutter you are just covering up the emptiness you may feel inside. Clutter may give you short-term comfort and even an ego boost, but deep down you know this feeling will not last.

The ‘stuff’ you use to fill your spaces with may help you feel less lonely and fill any internal void, but what you truly need to do is declutter and embrace your physical, mental, and time-space.

Learn to get comfortable in your own space. There is real beauty and calmness in an empty space.

© Trisha Dunbar


About the author

Trisha Dunbar

Rambling of written words | Reader of things | Drinker of coffee | Doer of stuff | Welcome to my profile 😊

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