Silence is a responsibility

Just a wee reminder to you and me that not saying or doing something, not making a choice, is indeed doing too. It is an action with attendant responsibility. Silence is a powerful stance; those on the receiving end could be significantly impacted.

I think there is some distortion that occurs when people choose not to speak or ‘show’ themselves in interactions; those that do often end up with more responsibility than is theirs. In groups, this is where the risk of scapegoating lies.

As with so many things, knowing when to choose to disengage, or to be silent is key. For me, I choose momentary silence with clients when I want to give space to reflect and I can see someone is busy figuring something out.

Often though, I’m reminded of my training, where emphasis was placed on my empathy being perceived. As a helper, there is little value in me feeling empathic if I cannot convey it. And relying on non-verbals to convey my empathy may be a risky business. Of course, I cannot control how my responses land even with words – but they certainly help. Some say that attempting to understand another’s world can only ever be that; an attempt. It’s an awesome task, let alone without using all facets of my being, verbals included.

At other times, usually in personal relationships, I need to prioritise empathising with myself. I need to choose silence as a stance to preserve energy; when showing more of myself feels unproductive; or after a prolonged experience of not being heard. I realise that my choice to engage less has sometimes landed heavily on others. It is also a necessary boundary I’m communicating. And, as long as I’m doing this in awareness – of the potential impacts and the responsibility of this as a choice – I’m good with it.

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