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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Break the silence

As an introvert, silence has always been precious to me. It is a haven where I can ruminate, create, and get lost so I can return later to a world that is bombarded by information and noise. Over the years however, I've found that there are many sides to silence. There is the good kind of silence, the one I refer to as my refuge. And then there is silence that oppresses; silence that kills.

It is human nature to want to be acknowledged. We thrive when we are affirmed by others that we exist, that we are important, that we are here. Only other people can validate that. If nobody sees us nor hears us, if nobody cares if we are here or not, there's really not much point to living since we feel that we do not have any significance over anything; that we have no power to affect. Being thus "invisible" cancels our feelings of self-worth.

We can all identify with this feeling of being invisible. Yet we do it to others. Worse, we do it to people who matter most to us. Often times when we are angry, frustrated, or threatened, it triggers our self-defense mechanisms that make us either lash out at, or just ignore people.

This is the case: when we are ignored, we do not disappear. We actually die a little inside. It is because we cease to exist for another person. And this is true for all living things. Pets, plants, rivers, mountains... without recognition, without affection, without respect, without love, the warmth of life turns cold and eventually dies out.

There's this story shared by Paolo Coelho of a rabbi who used to just keep silent whenever his wife nags him. Then one day, while in front of the dinner table with friends, he just started answering his wife back. This puzzled their friends. Later when asked why he argued with his wife, he said, “...I realized that what bothered my wife most was the fact that I remained silent. Acting in this way, I remained far from her emotions. My reaction was an act of love, and I managed to make her understand that I heard her words.”

It is true that we should think twice of what we say when we are in the height of emotions because words, when uttered can no longer be unsaid. However, at the extreme end, we should also do our best to resist shutting people out whenever we feel threatened. To keep silent when there are things that needed saying is to build a wall where communication cannot get through. Such silence can only communicate confusion. Sometimes a single word or sentence is all we need to understand each other and forgive. When we hold ourselves back from saying them, we give so much space for negative thoughts and feelings to thrive. In the end, we end up losing so much more than the few simple heartfelt words that we refused to say- we lose mutual respect and trust; we lose each other.

The next time we feel like crawling back inside our shells for either momentary respite, or refuge and healing solitude, we might as well leave a message, "I don't want to talk about this now. I need time. But let's talk about this later."

It pays to break the silence, than to forever hold our peace. ^_^


"You got to know that in the end, its better to say too much, than to never say what you need to say." - John Mayer, Say

August Bernadette 

kaigachi is a conjugation of the Japanese term "kigaicha" or crazy. It roughly translates as "crazy about something."

"One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious." - C.Jung

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