Of the changes I have made in my life, one of the most positive changes has been to get comfortable with stillness and silence. For a long time, I used noise as a way to avoid my own thoughts. Falling asleep to the tv, listening to music in the car, or keeping the television on for background noise was constant. It felt normal to have constant chatter in the background. I now realize that I kept my life noisy to avoid the fear of being alone with my thoughts. In the quiet, I was forced to think about the things I had not accomplished that day or what I had to do the next day. Sometimes I played the comparison game and would tell myself I wasn’t good enough or I had not accomplished enough. On the worst days, I would struggle through an emotional rollercoaster.
It wasn’t until I started counseling that I began learning how the brain works. As I explained the anxiety and worry that kept creeping up on me to my counselor, she pointed out that those thoughts stemmed from my brain’s natural ability to protect me. I learned that my brain was doing its job but working overtime to keep me calm. The problem was that I was almost never in a relaxed state. I didn’t even know how to relax. The small moments when I let myself be still and stay quiet; didn’t feel right. I didn’t know what to do with it. Hence, the reason I needed the noise. The noise felt comfortable and normal to me.
Today, I enjoy the stillness. Whether it’s the silence in the morning, the commute to work, or laying in bed falling asleep, these are no longer moments I dread. I welcome these moments in the small doses they come to me. I challenge myself to create pockets of time to sit in silence and take more time to reflect or journal. I relish the moments I am able to sit still with my thoughts. It is no longer uncomfortable or awkward. Do those thoughts of self-doubt and negativity still creep in on me? Yes! Do I believe that the intentional practice of silence and stillness helps me to overcome these thoughts? Yes! This positive change, one of many, has opened up the space to heal, feel joy, and love life. What a gift to cherish!