My eldest daughter tells me every now and then that I talk to much. “Mum, stop talking”, she says, and when I think back, it is usually at a time when I am tired and I feel that I haven’t got an indication from her that she has understood what I am trying to convey to her. She will have told me in some way……a look, a change in her body posture/stance, an utterance, a grunt, a change in her energy…….but really, during these times I am just not paying attention. So I have become curious about the amount of emphasis I put on words. For me it’s an easy way of conveying what I need, an easy way of informing others, an easy way of asking, being curious, connecting. Because this is easy for me, I notice I want my girls to talk more often, to tell me what they are up to, what they need etc… rather than me needing to use my intuition and notice them from a place of presence, because let’s face it, a lot of the time ‘being present’ takes work. Words for me are a way we can communicate without me having to be ‘fully present’. So, my favourite saying, up until this realisation, has been “use your words please”.
Now, I’m not saying that speaking is bad, – not at all! I just found that when my girls were little, unable to talk etc… I was there, connected. I knew what they wanted/needed, we were in-tune. Once they started talking I started seeing them more as little people and often expected more from them because they were starting to walk, talk, and act like little humans. It was like, when talking became fluent, I expected that they would have more of an understanding of what they needed and what they were feeling, etc… much like an adult would. Now, we all know how absurd this expectation is. They are young, they are learning, and even adults don’t know what they want or need at times, so how could I expect this from a little person?! I’m not saying its rational, it was just a deep underlying belief that I noticed. So, it got me curious about how I could change this pattern and so, I spent half a day around my family in silence.
Now, this may seem a little strange – my husband certainly thought so – but I got so much from it. For a start I found it tough trying to figure out how to communicate with everyone without using speech, but I soon found it was pretty easy and FUN! The girls loved it!
What I noticed:
- I looked them in the eye more when they were talking and they looked me in the eye, so I felt heard, noticed and understood. Undoubtedly they would have felt the same.
- I found new ways of communicating using gestures, leading, etc
- I slowed down.
- I took notice of my family, their expressions, their energy, their tone, their body language.
- I felt a deep appreciation of them for their willingness to experiment with me in this way.
- I noticed that how I was with my little ones/others influenced how my little ones were with me/others.
Needless to say, it was pretty eye opening and something that I would be keen to do on a regular basis as a sort of re-set. Sort of like re-starting a computer…
If you are interested in experimenting with silence, then here are a few things to consider:
- Let everyone in the household know of your intention for your silence experiment
- Arrange a time/day that suits everyone for you to experiment in this way
- First off, it might be helpful if you experiment at home or somewhere that you won’t need to talk/engage with others that aren’t aware of your experiment
- Be aware of the inner child – particularly if giving the ‘silent treatment’ is one of your usual go to’s… In this case make doubly sure everyone knows your intention for doing this, is coming from a place of love.
- Have fun with it – open yourself up to new ways to communicate and enjoy your time in this space.
- Let everything else go. Use it as a chance to take a back seat for a while and observe. Drop the usual doing-for-doings sake and embark on doing with presence – with your full self.
Enjoy experimenting or even entertaining the idea, and let me know your thoughts, findings…