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The Power of Silence

power of silence

Silence has an energy to it like no other source. It has the power to get people to think and to act, it can help slow the mind down, and it is a powerful ally in the likes of counseling and life coaching.

The trouble with silence is that many people feel the need to fill the void of silence with needless chatter, with TV, with Music, with noise of some kind. Silence can be disconcerting and can make people feel uncomfortable and alone, that’s why the world is filled with TV’s that have been left on when nobody is watching, for background noise.

What happens when there is silence?

We turn our thoughts and focus inwards and gain the power we need to refuel our minds. Our ego is temporarily switched off or at least made to be quiet for a bit, and we start to see the real world as it should be. Our thoughts get in the way of our reality sometimes and we don’t see the beauty of the world around us. When there is silence there is time for introspection and to allow our true self to speak not the ego or the conscious mind, but the true self connected to the flow of energy around us.

5 Examples of when to use silence

1. During arguments. One of the best times to use the power of silence is during  an argument is to stay silent. The ego will be trying to force its way out of you and finish the argument but you are the controller, not the ego. When someone is shouting at you, looking for an argument or just picking on you can literally take all the power away from them and keep all your energy by simply looking at them and saying absolutely nothing. This is extremely difficult to do but very powerful.

2. Gossiping. When there is a crowd of people in the workplace there are gossipers who speak about other people. The thing with gossiping is that it is contagious. When we don’t like someone and someone else starts speaking about them we naturally tend to voice our opinion, I’ve done it lots of times and have to stop myself.

Try and stop yourself from catching the virus of gossiping and use the power of silent whenever it occurs. If you are a gossiper yourself and people around start to notice that you are ‘not your usual self’, don’t give an explanation just leave saying you’ve got work to do or whatever, pretty soon you’ll be out of the gossiping loop.

3. When someone is talking. Silence is a great tool for counselors if used in the right way. It’s also great when listening to friends and family.

Just let people talk and listen to them and use your facial expressions and movements to acknowledge that you are listening. This can be a tough thing to do but siclence is an extremely powerful for both you, as the listener, and the talker.

You will find that as you practice this, more people come to talk to you as you will be known as a listener. Obviously there are times to speak during the conversation, however when you do, make sure it is to paraphrase what the talker is saying or asking questions to get more information, don’t make it about yourself.

When people want to know more about you they will ask you questions, this is the time to talk about yourself but always have the listener be part of the conversation.

4. When the house is empty. The silence of the home can be quite disturbing to some people as there is a natural need to fill the void of silence. We turn on the radio, play some music, call friends or family, or turn on the TV to fill this void. Having a completely silent home when you are alone does not mean you are alone it simply means you are recharging your mind and giving it some downtime.

Silence helps us to work through, in our minds, the events of the day or project what we want to happen during the day ahead. I am a night owl and also a morning lark. I love the silence when I know everyone is safe and tucked up in bed and I can write or work on the computer. On the weekends I go to bed with my wife to talk about days events or our plans and just have a laugh or whatever.

Once my wife, who loves her sleep, has gone to sleep I kiss her goodnight and get up for a few hours to write as this is the time I am most inspired. I am also the first person up in the morning which means I have another 2 hours to write or work on my online projects in silence.

I know it’s harder when you are alone, however times of silence can be used to think about the life you want and work out ways to get it.

5. Quiet reflection. This is a fantastic way to connect with world in a way that is not possible when you are surrounded by hubbub noise. 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the evening simply focusing on your breath can do wonders for both mind and body. I truly believe that with practice quiet reflection can help us reach a level of deep inner calm.

The state of silence is a way of reaching another part of your mind not possible when going about your daily routine. This other part of your mind is connected in every way to the world around you and with practice you can tap into this knowledge.

Does silence help you? Let us know how you have used silence in your life and how it has helped you.

Written by Steven Aitchison the founder and creator of Change Your Thoughts . His work focuses on changing your life through the process of changing your thoughts.

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44 Comments

  1. Steven Aitchison September 17, 2009 Reply

    Hi Jonathan

    Just wanted to say thank you for letting me publish a guest post on your blog. I have admired your writing for a long time now and it’s an honour to be featured. Thank you.

    • Jonathan September 17, 2009 Reply

      Hi Steve, it’s all very mutual and I am grateful that we can work together. Silence is something I value highly. I’ve always been sensitive to noise pollution and that’s one of the reasons that living in the country suits me. So this article (without your knowledge) really resonated with me.

      • BONGLAZ December 3, 2009 Reply

        It reminds me of the famous Max Ehrmann’s DESIDERATA, “Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace may be in SILENCE”.
        When things go wrong, i prefer to make silence as my fighting tool..it gives balance to the circumstances until everything falls into their proper places again.

  2. Robin Easton September 17, 2009 Reply

    I just LOVE LOVE this. I am a strong advocate of silence. I have actually done several vows of silence. One three months long and not one word. It absolutely brought me face to face with myself and changed my whole life. I’ve done several shorter ones with variations, but that first is unforgettable. Today I HAVE to have times of silence. I have a LOT of silence in my life. I don’t watch TV, don’t listen to radio, get off the computer as quick as I can, which is not quick enough, and enjoy time alone in nature just being in Nature’s form of silence. And with my husband we are so comfortable being with each other and speaking one word. I have extreme hearing, when tested goes off the chart for human hearing, or it did last time tested. So it’s painful for me to have constant noise. I need silence to give my brain peace, to give my soul peace and to know who I am.

    Beautiful article.

    • Steven Aitchison September 17, 2009 Reply

      Wow Robin, 3 months without speaking. I’ve already said this to on SU but this would be a great story if you could share it with us. Thank you as always for your support and encouragement.

  3. Nik Karlil September 17, 2009 Reply

    Great advice Steven. I especially like #1 and #3. I’ve been trying to master #3 for some time now. The progress is going great although sometimes I’m still tempted to related to my experience, not something most want to hear.

    • Steven Aitchison September 17, 2009 Reply

      Hi Nik, silence when someone else it talking is very difficult to master, as you said you always want to relate your experience of what someone is talking about. However it is very powerful and worth pursuing.

  4. Walter September 17, 2009 Reply

    Silence is more eloquent than speech. Most of the time I employ silence when I’m confused. I also contemplate any situation by moments of silence. Actually, my wife gets irritated of my silence and want me to spill to her what’s on my mind. However, I believe in the saying: Think twice before you speak once. :-)

    • Steven Aitchison September 17, 2009 Reply

      Hi Walter that’s always been a good maxim to ‘think twice before you speak’.

  5. Mike King September 17, 2009 Reply

    Excellent article Steven and a great place to host it here! This topic of silence is one I can’t believe now after reading this I’ve never thought to write about myself. Oh wait, I was being silent about it! :)

    Seriously though, the point on using silence during gossip is often ignored but gossip is one of those dangerous relationship killers and silence for that is the perfect weapon. I may have to elaborate on that area sometime in a post. Thanks for the article, I’m sure there are other times as well. One for me is during times of stress. Solitude and silence bring a lot of peace of mind and help me relax.

    • Steven Aitchison September 17, 2009 Reply

      Hi Mike :)

      That could have been a number 6; using silence in times of stress and it’s a great place to use silence, it calms the mind down enough for you to think about. Thanks Mike.

  6. Chris Akins September 18, 2009 Reply

    Steve,
    Another great post. I really like the sections on meditation and listening. I firmly believe in the power of meditation for healing and growth.

    I am on the fence with the use of silence during arguments. I think that is highly contextual. In many cases (most?) remaining silent is really withdrawing from the argument, and therefore the relationship. This can lead to heightened anger and an escalation of the conflict if used inappropriately. If you feel the need to be silent in an argument

    I usually encourage clients to find a way to extricate themselves from conflict whenever possible rather than stonewall. Depending on the type of relationship and whether or not the person wishes to preserve it, I think it best to state the reason for withdrawing, and the intent to return to resolve the issue when cooler heads can prevail.

    I am wondering what context you were thinking of in your post? I know there are some in which silence may be the best solution. It can be rather off putting and may provide some advantage in the right situation.

    Thanks again for another great post, and thank you Jonathan for allowing Steve to guest post!

    Chris

    • Steven Aitchison September 19, 2009 Reply

      Chris, thanks for your comments and support. When I was talking about silence and using it in arguments, silence is used as a way of drawing an argument down i.e. to close it without you saying a word, you can effectively win an argument without saying anything.

      Yes, you’re right it can upset people even more but as long as you are not sneering at them and making it obvious you are trying to rile them up further it can be a way to cool things down, and a way for the other person to vent their full anger. This way the anger is controlled and vented in an appropriate manner. Hope that makes sense :)

  7. Rebecca September 18, 2009 Reply

    Great post. I agree that silence is very powerful, especially if you find yourself in the middle of a heated argument. It can help you to gain the clarity you need when you have major decisions to make. I know I could use a little silence in my life right now — too much noise!

    • Steven Aitchison September 19, 2009 Reply

      Rebacca, thanks for your comments. Silence can be extremely powerful in heated arguments. It’s also a must for modern life just now. Our minds are evolving into super-minds with the rate and speed of information that we process so silence is needed to re-energize.

      • Jaky July 24, 2011 Reply

        When you are in a heated argument, silence can be rather a hart thing to get into. So, you might just get a card or something..a visiting size card that you can keep in your pocket and take it out frequently during the day…that will just keep you in alignment with what you want…no matter when abrupt situations arise..

  8. Stephen - Rat Race Trap September 18, 2009 Reply

    Steve, this is a FANTASTIC article. I simply can’t say enough good about it. I love silence. I love being alone and silence. You’ve put a new twist on silence by tying it to activities in which there is an expectation of not being silent in 1 – 3. I LOVED this. I’m tweeting it right now.

    • Steven Aitchison September 19, 2009 Reply

      Wow Stephen, I take that as a real compliment coming from you as I admire your writing so much. Thanks for your comments and encouragement.

  9. jonathan fgaro September 18, 2009 Reply

    Great List. This reminds me of my favorite quote

    “There are times when silence has the loudest voice”

  10. Carla September 18, 2009 Reply

    An awesome article, thank you so much! As a future medical doctor, I can say that silence really cures. I always use this idea when I talk to the patients in the hospital, and I believe silence helps them to focus on fighting against the diseases and ailments which ruin their life.

    • Steven Aitchison September 23, 2009 Reply

      Thanks for visiting Carla and sharing your thoughts. Silence as a way to cure people is a great concept.

  11. Evita September 18, 2009 Reply

    Fantastic! I definitely agree that we do not have enough silence today. Not only that so many of us are so uncomfortable with it. I noticed this the most while working as a teacher with teens. They always need something in their ears.

    Silence is indeed an amazing and probably really “forgotten” tool and a healing one at that…

    • Steven Aitchison September 19, 2009 Reply

      Hi Evita, thanks for your comments. You are so right that it is a forgotten tool and a very powerful one for modern life, even more so I’d say.

  12. Hicham September 19, 2009 Reply

    Hi Steven,

    Superb! Silence is the way to understand more about yourself, people and hence the world around you. Unfortunately, as many things in our life, people misinterpret your silence sometimes.

    Just have a look to our ‘cities’ and you shall discover they are so noisy and here I am talking globally not in terms of which city is most noise and all this blah blah blah!

    Thanks Jonathan for introducing Steven for your readers!

    • Steven Aitchison September 19, 2009 Reply

      Hi Hicham, thanks very much for your words I appreciate them. The world is a noisy place and our minds have been used to the noise for so long that we have become uncomfortable with silence. I think it’s time to get comfortable again :)

  13. Rocket Bunny September 20, 2009 Reply

    This is a wonderful article.

    What I like is comfortable silence.When two people can be relaxed with no talking or thinking. Just sharing the peaceful and a spiritual time together. No words are necessary.

    • Steven Aitchison September 20, 2009 Reply

      Thanks Bunny, I know exactly what you mean by this. It’s that feeling of being comfortable in each others silence without feeling the need to talk, but you are still very connected.

  14. Jonathan September 20, 2009 Reply

    It’s been so much fun having Steve here to interact and share, maybe we can arrange for him to join us once a month or so. If you have an opinion about that prospect, please feel free to express it.

    I have a guest article that will be posted on Steve’s blog tomorrow (9/21) titled: What is You Greatest Source of Personal Power? I hope you’ll visit me there and leave a comment.

  15. Justin- AlittleBetter.net September 21, 2009 Reply

    Great article Steve. I know in the eastern countries silence is preferred, but in the west we seem to prefer to drown out our demons rather than learn to be happy with ourselves. I say the ability to be comfortable in silence is really the ability to be comfortable with your own mind.

  16. Tomas December 29, 2009 Reply

    Thank you for your deep insights and the eyes opening question about the way we deal with the silence. At a moment I would name the Silence my best friend, yet it came to me not as some conscious choice by me. After my head trauma the silence became the main feature of my day. Social silence depicts well as me as all all people with the disabilities. Silent gazing through the window was my only possibility and I have learned that activity. Silence taught me to appreciate better what I have and thus opened a door to me into myself. I entered into the fabulous world of thoughts were the fantastic visions depict not the dreams but the reality and thus transform the bodily weakness into the miracle of the spiritual silence that thunder loudly… Silence taught me to hear. I am grateful to her for that. Plus silence showed me the need to voice the words for not to lose what was discovered. Thus I am doubly glad to thank you for your article. One of the main features of the Power of Silence is the power to awake the desire to be grateful, to leave the comments and have a fellowship with each other.

  17. Vivek July 5, 2010 Reply

    Thanks, this article is an enlightening a peace. Silence demonstrates how much peace we have in our mind. If you are in silence try to watch how your thoughts enter your mind and be aware when they leave. Although thoughts are primary, words are secondary. That’s why words travel so far. When our mind gets silent it deeply influences our circumstances.

  18. Kavitha July 24, 2011 Reply

    I agree. This is what I was thinking today. Our words follow our thoughts and deeds/actions follow our good or bad words/thoughts. If we can control/watch our thoughts through any of the above methods ,it brings peace to body ,mind and soul.

  19. precious August 12, 2011 Reply

    Thanks Steve for this wonderful article on silence, I will say my mind is renewed. It all started when one of my student started accusing me falsely, I didn’t know what to do because I have been trying to show them servant leadership. Thankfully, other students started talking on my behalf. What came into mind was to keep silent, then I ended the meeting and started thinking about the power of silence. I really appreciate the article.

  20. Graham November 9, 2011 Reply

    I am currently training as a counsellor and one of the biggest problems people have on the course is during our personal development sessions and silence happens. I find it fascinating how, for various reasons, people find this to be uncomfortable for more than a couple of minutes. In a strange way the silence itself then often becomes the topic of the conversation.
    Because of that difficulty people have with it I am trying to look into silence more and am going to do an assignment and presentation on it too. I would appreciate any pointers towards theoretical research (if any) on the power of silence (especially therapeutic) or any good literature on it.
    On a persoanl level I wonder if true silence exists?

  21. Tyler September 24, 2012 Reply

    This is a very great article. It’s very informative and also inspiring. I have tried taking a vow of silence before, but I didn’t do too well. It’s become very habitual that I [often] speak, but I’d like to break from that and only speak when I need to or when I’m spoken to. I have been told by a few that I’m quiet, but I would rather be more silent around everyone, not just strangers and co-workers, but family as well.

    I live with my mother,and she seems to take offense on days where I’m really quiet. Some days,like anyone else, I just don’t feel like talking.
    I like silence because I feel more at peace with myself. I actually feel like it’s just me and my thoughts and it seems that I can observe more around me when I’m quiet. When I just let myself go and say whatever the hell comes to mind, then I feel regret and I will find myself thinking “Dammit. I shouldn’t have said that. I should have just said nothing.”

  22. courtney January 8, 2013 Reply

    Thank you so much as I came across this site and felt like I was reading about me. Very true and start of the New Year, like everyone trying new things and/or goals. Need to fill more useful time in my schedule not w/ TV and the internet. If it is for the internet, try use it for useful things like finding this blog and reading interesting articles. But I have trouble with uncomfortable silence and always fill need to. Partially, I feel I blame it on my job bc I am in customer service drs office and always on the phone, talking to people, checking them out. Been doing this since 18 and now almost 35 that, now I want the silence and find it difficult to do. Again, thank you for posting this and very helpful and interesting!!!

  23. Erika March 18, 2013 Reply

    Awesomely written article, couldn’t agree more ^_^

  24. jolee August 16, 2013 Reply

    Could not have a read a better article today! My husband has been asking me what is wrong (because I’ve been silent) and never in 36 years have I felt an overwhelming need for silence as I do now, for the past two days. Six kids, a dog & a husband>>> is it horrible that I need this silence, want this silence? I google silence mostly to see if I’m alone in this need/want and clicked on your article, now I know it’s more then ok.
    Thank you for making me smile.

    -Jolee

  25. patrick August 22, 2013 Reply

    I read some of your words with interest…I am a 50 year old man who doe’s not know when to shut up….I talk non stop even when as a family we are watching TV….How do i stop?….Yes I’ve been through many trauma’s as a child “to many to list” but i hate silence…Can i change???

    • Jonathan August 22, 2013 Reply

      Yes Patrick you can change and you might start by turning listening into hobby. The need to talk constantly comes from being self-absorbed, listening requires that you focus on someone else. There is an old saying” “We have 2 ears and only 1 mouth because we are supposed to listen twice as much as we speak.” Change your focus from your mouth to your ears!

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