I’ve been incredibly ill for the last 10 days. An awful cold/virus has run through our house with a vengeance. I’m the last to get it so hopefully it’s on its way out for good now. It was packed with an arsenal of chest congestion, fever, aches, cough, post nasal drip, and phlegm. All sorts of grossness. Very little sleep.
A few days into it, I lost my voice. Losing one’s voice is an interesting and often frustrating phenomenon. When the kids started fighting, I couldn’t raise my voice above theirs. When I needed to be heard, all that came out was whispers and squeaks, which is very difficult to take seriously.
It took so much effort to get any kind of sound out, that most of the time it wasn’t worth trying. My throat hurt from the constant coughing and trying to talk only aggravated it. So, I found myself just being quiet.
I’m not much of a talker anyway. Being an introvert, I take in exponentially more than I speak out. But I realized when forced to be quiet, the spoken word is extremely powerful in my life.
Some things I discovered in silence.
1. Much of what we speak are canned responses to what someone else says.
We say things like, “uh huh,” “yeah,” and “oh, really?” A lot of polite feedback. Not a lot of substance there. Sometimes these responses can be taken as affirmation or agreement with the person instead of the recognition that they were heard.
2. Our first response is often triggered by our soft spots.
When someone says something that you feel the need to respond to immediately, it’s often because it’s touched on something tender in your life. Either a hurt, a passion, or a related experience. Be careful. Knee-jerk reactions are rarely accurate.
I was forced to hear things and couldn’t immediately respond with my take, my opinion, or my side. Instead it had to sit and simmer in my subconscious. I found the longer a thought sat with me, the more I could filter through it, accept ALL the good from it, and discard only the obsolete. I didn’t simply negate an entire thought because I disagreed with part of it.
The quieter you become, the more you can hear.
3. We want to hear ourselves.
Saying things out loud makes them permanent in our minds. It also makes it permanent in space. Once the sound waves leave your mouth, it travels until it’s heard or the energy is finally absorbed. When they say you can’t take back the words you say, they’re right. (Whoever They are.)
We feel like saying so, makes it so. That if it’s said out loud, it must be true. Now, we all know that’s not necessarily the case, but there is still power in the spoken word. People read out loud to help them remember what they’ve read. They speak positive words to boost their confidence. They repeat things over and over to commit information to memory.
Not being able to speak positive things, made me feel very low sometimes. Not being able to add something helpful to a conversation made me feel helpless. We need to hear ourselves to feel significant.
4. We want others to hear us.
We connect with others through our words. It sheds light on our thought processes that normally go undetected. Words give clarity on points that are misunderstood. We all crave to be understood.
Above all, it’s most frustrating to let others talk about you without being able to clarify. Without words, you’re at the mercy of what someone else thinks and says. Those who speak the loudest seem to be the ones who get heard.
Introverts deal with this a lot, regardless of having laryngitis. We don’t always feel like everything needs to be talked about. Least of all ourselves. You don’t ask, we don’t tell. We just live by the assumption that our character will be enough. But sometimes, we just want to be asked.
Laryngitis has been a lesson for me and I wanted to share it with you.
- Not everything you say is necessary or accurate.
- Being quick to respond keeps you from gaining a true perspective.
- The things you say leave a lasting impression somewhere with someone, even if it’s just you.
- Not everything needs to be talked about.
- Everyone should be given the chance to clarify.
What kind of frustrations have you had regarding words that were spoken? When have you been unable to respond when you really wanted to and how did you feel about it? Leave your comments here.