We live in a culture that values sharing every thought and feeling as it occurs. As a result, we often don't pause to reflect on what we have just said. This lack of reflection can lead to a superficial connection with ourselves. In contrast, by paying attention to the silence within our conversation and embracing those spaces, we can connect more deeply with ourselves. This deeper connection is the basis of an authentically engaged and self-actualized life.
Paying attention to the silence as the space between our verbal exchanges allows the meaning of these exchanges to be assimilated into our psyches and from that place of depth, our creative engagement naturally flows. Creative engagement with our internal processes allows us to discover more of who we are, to take in previously hidden aspects of ourselves, and to reconfigure ourselves, if we so choose. This is what allows us to be more deeply authentic in the present moment. By being more authentic, we become more self-actualized and can impact our world in powerful ways.
Communicating verbally and then being silent are both vitally important. They form two parts of a whole that we dance between. The verbal communication expresses to the world what is going on inside of us. The silence, the gap between our talking, if it is valued, will allow us to digest what we just said and to discover what we want to say next as it emerges in the present moment. Our communication becomes a forum to explore new territory in ourselves by listening to what we just said rather than talking about what we already know. Does it fit, is it true, is it really how I feel, are some of the questions we can ask ourselves in those reflective moments of silence. This allows us to move from the unknown into self-discovery. From this process, personal growth often occurs.
When I value silence as a therapist in a session, I discover what is going on within me in the moment. I listen in a finely attuned way to my client so that I understand more of the subtleties of what makes them tick and how they make meaning of their life. The same benefit of valuing the silence that occurs in a therapist-client relationship is relevant to any relationship, whether it is spouse to spouse, parent to child, or friend to friend.
Consider pausing the next time you are talking to someone and you find yourself automatically saying what you normally say. Reflect on what you just said -- does it resonate? Then, see if what you say next seems true to who you are in the moment. See if what you say leads to a self-discovery. You will then be experiencing the power of silence.