i have found silence to be a very effective tool in my little life toolbox. life skills are valuable and i would categorize this under healthy boundaries.
this one was hard for me to learn since early on in my life i determined in my heart that i would have my say. i thought it was a safety net. instead, often, it was a hole in my bucket. it often caused things to get worse.
of all the subjects to be discussed, proverbs gives many keys of wisdom on the mouth, the words we speak, and how we speak them. it is strange to my mind that not saying anything all can be more effective than saying everything i think at the time.
i have learned that it truly is an effective boundary and more times than not…it works.
reasons why silence is so effective:
1. i am not always right. shock horror! yet true. what works for me will not always work for someone else’s life. each person has their own journey. allowing them to make that journey the best way they can is important.
2. sometimes, people just need someone to listen. i’m a fixer. not everything has to be fixed. there are times when only a listening ear is necessary.
3. the timing is all wrong for what someone needs to hear. maybe someone who trusts me needs
accountability. however, a heart must feel safe, be open and ready to hear. if the timing is wrong i could make matters worse.
4. the person already knows. they may be looking for agreement for a wrong position. i don’t have to give my agreement but i don’t have to spell it out for them either. they already know what to do. giving them time to work it out can be more effective than pushing them.
5. the situation may be too volatile or ridiculous. i used to wonder why grandmothers would shake their head and walk away…there is a good reason. you just can’t put a workable solution into words. my husband is the king of off the wall comments…silliness. i have found myself shaking my head and walking away! he then comes out with, “that’s a pretty silly thing to say, eh?” then I can give it a, “um, yeah!” done. it works for anger as well. although listening to a rant is not easy, my boundary is “if you communicate in a responsible way, i will participate in the conversation. if not, i will be silent until you can.” conflicts are many times fewer than ever. it works with children, too. i tell my grandchildren that when they are ready to calm down we can talk…until then I won’t be talking to them.
there is something about our human nature that does not like to feel like we are being ignored.
i have a sister who is 13 years younger than i am. when she was a toddler and annoying (at least to a teenager), i would tell my other teenage sister to “i-g-n-o-r-e her” and my baby sister would yell, “don’t ik-nore me!”
although, what i am talking about is different than ignoring someone, silence is more effective and gets someone’s attention much better than lectures, nagging, or being pushy. i am talking about using wisdom verses manipulation. you will know the difference! it is often very clear where silence is best served and effective.
there are times when i do not stand in silence: bullying, abuse, and matters of safety. still, wisdom can be applied…maybe fewer words or the proper authority can do the speaking. at any rate, the key is to use wisdom and not go to extremes at one end or the other…you don’t want to say too much but you don’t want to be totally silent either.
have you ever asked yourself, “why did i say?” Or have you said, ” i’m always putting my foot in my mouth”?
if so, you might want to develop a healthy boundary that allows you the ability to sometimes, say nothing at all.
give it a try. practice. see if it works for you like it has for me.
for help, check out the wisdom found in proverbs.
when learning this life skill, i would do word fasts. i would fast (or cut out) all unnecessary words as a way to develop the discipline.
there are many effective ways to practice.
silence truly is powerful!