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Why We Fear Silence

It has nothing to do with lack of sound

By Aaron PacePublished 9 months ago 2 min read
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Photo by Daniel Born on Unsplash

I was 34 years old when I started long-distance running. I determined, early on, that I wouldn't plug in while I ran, even on 20+ mile solo runs. Instead, I chose to get lost in my own thoughts and the sounds of life around me.

Running is an effective stress reducer for me. It's also when I do some of my best thinking. When I'm not running, my mind is generally a cacophony of noise: endless problems to solve, tasks to complete, things to remember, my own inner voice; all of them vying for my attention.

When I'm sitting at my desk, struggling to solve a particular problem, it doesn't typically take very long for anxiety to set in. Invariably, I get distracted (social media) or turn on music to help calm me down. Most of the time that is simply adding noise to the noise.

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When I was a young child, I had a teacher who told me to never stop talking. I started talking early, and it's continued for the last 40 years. I've often fallen prey to the truth in John P. Weiss's words:

People get uncomfortable with silence and tend to fill it with their words.

What is it about silence that we're afraid of?

Think about it.

When you're standing in line at the grocery store, what is generally the first thing you do?

Pull out your phone?

Over the last decade, boredom and silence have been nearly eradicated by smart phones. Silence has become synonymous with boredom, and boredom is a thing that went from normal to something we fear and fight with endless distractions.

We fear silence because silence and boredom may cause us to confront our own shortcomings; things we could improve upon if we gave them a little bit of effort. With that effort, however, there will likely be discomfort or even pain. We also use phones and so many other things to buffer processing our emotions in a healthy way.

Silence is also an opportunity to think, and as Sofo Archon pointed out, "The more ignorant we are, the less we feel the need to think, and hence the less we feel the stress to change and become the greatest version of ourselves. Many people choose to remain ignorant, afraid that thinking might ruin their lives."

Guilty as charged.

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In a world of endless noise and distractions, moments of silence and reflection are more important than ever.

Endless noise. Endless distractions.

I don't think that everyone who creates games for mobile devices has nefarious intentions. Most shows and movies are not designed to make digital slaves of the human population. However, the result is the same. Endless buffering. Endless opportunities to make a difference - even a small one - wasted because of fear of taking a step away from the noise to contemplate life. We're being conditioned by our always-on way of life to be afraid of silence which can sometimes be uncomfortable.

I've recently started meditating. They're very simple meditations that take only a few moments to complete. I've been surprised by what an impact even a few minutes of quiet contemplation can do for me. In those moments of contemplation, I have opportunity to face some of my own challenges.

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There's something about the physical demand of running that causes my mind to focus. That's why I run. It's not for the sake of running itself. In those quiet moments, my mind is open to new ideas.

And it has taught me not to be afraid of silence.

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Thanks for reading!

mental health
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About the Creator

Aaron Pace

Married to my best friend. Father to five exuberant children. Fledgling entrepreneur. Writer. Software developer. Inventory management expert.

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