Dr. Forshee talks to Elite Daily about why silence so uncomfortable for some
There’s no one root cause of a fear of silence, according to doctor of psychology and licensed clinical social worker, Dr. Danielle Forshee, LLC. However, she tells me in an interview with Elite Daily, “silence generally stimulates us to be able to notice our automatic thoughts,” aka uncontrollable, and often-uncomfortable thoughts that occur when triggered by something else. Because these thoughts often cause stressful emotions to ensue, she says, “most prefer to not sit and notice their thoughts, and [sound] provides that relief.”
Usually, when you’re afraid of something, it’s not the thing itself that’s so scary. For instance, if you’re uneasy in a dark room, it’s not the dim lighting that freaks you out; it’s the fact that you can’t be absolutely certain you know what’s lurking in the shadows. In terms of silence, it’s not the quiet that makes you feel on-edge; it’s the fact that there’s nothing to distract you from your own thoughts — thoughts you might not want to recognize just yet, as Dr. Forshee points out.
As for the awkward silence that lulls between conversations, Dr. Forshee says the reason why these sorts of pauses are so wildly uncomfortable is because quiet presents a lack of structure or direction.
“Unstructured moments make people vulnerable to parts of their personalities coming out that they typically try to keep under wraps,” she tells Elite Daily, “such as stuttering, overcompensating with humor, saying dirty jokes, etc.”
But don’t sweat it when this happens. When one person stops talking, it’s most likely, Forshee says, that both parties are searching for a way to continue on with the engagement.
Silence can definitely be daunting, but there are ways to teach yourself to be a little more comfortable with the quiet. Dr. Forshee says the best way to overcome the fear is to face it head-on by practicing mindfulness. In other words, shut off the TV, mute the music, and log out of social media for a miniature hiatus throughout the day. Becoming more comfortable with your personal thoughts, she says, should make the quiet more manageable.
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