The Fear of Silence: An Addiction to Distraction

Dec 13, 2017

You would think that for an introvert, I would be really comfortable being alone – but that’s not always the case.

While it’s true that I feel the most comfortable, most confident, and most “myself” when I’m alone…

It’s also the time when I can be at my worst.

Terrible health choices. Poor sleep. Terrible self-discipline.

And I’m coming to terms with the fact that I have a distinct fear of … silence.

Over time I’ve become particularly accustomed to noise and stimulation in my normal environment.

Music in my ears.
A gentle hum of my computer fan.
This dull noise coming from a tube in the wall.
Flickering of countless pixels on the screen.

Very rarely are things truly quiet, dim, calm.

As an introvert, I should know that these are all forms of stimulation.

And stimulation can be draining for an introvert like me.

Maybe I wrote them off because they weren’t “social” stimulation.

Not all of these are inherently bad: when they’re used correctly and don’t draw me away from important or critical things in my day/life.

Music can push me into a better state of mind, help me focus, or seemingly elevate my mind to another level.

But at times, music can also be …

Poison.

Not just music, but all forms of stimulation, heard and seen.

Stimulation can be a distraction and distraction is my addiction.

Anything vying for my attention and trying to deter me from what’s critical at hand, what’s productive, or whatever my intuition is trying to say.

Over and over again, I go to these distraction because they fill the silence.

But I need that silence. I crave it. And I fear it.

The silence is where the answers are. Silence is where I find myself.

Yet, I feel this constant need to fill natural silence and calmness with those distractions vying for my attention:

YouTube, music, Facebook, food, “inspirational content.”

Just one more video. One more song. One more idea.

And these are all great – when used right, they can be incredible tools.

But when they’re not, they feel like poison. And I can feel it.

I get tense. Anxious. Stressed.

… But the moment I truly disconnect?

And invite the silence I so fear?

And not fill it with inspirational videos, games, phone notifications, and the tempting allure of music …

Something else fills the silence:

The soft, comforting whisper of intuition … the voice of the heart.

It’s always happily chattering away:

Full of wisdom.
Instilling confidence.
Guiding the way.
Shining a light on what’s truly important.
Showing me who I actually am.

But I let all those addictions, the distractions, the poison — I let it talk over that wise little voice.

And sometimes I do it on purpose:

If I don’t let it talk, then I don’t have to face the truth. Right?

This whole “musing” came through because I felt the urge to shut everything down and get away.

Disconnect.
Everything off.
All noise.
All lights.

Complete silence, complete darkness.

It only took about 5 minutes for this realization to come through.

I spent the next half-an-hour typing up this post on my phone.

Painfully slow, but it forced me to stay single-track focused on the task at hand.

Not able to flip through a hundred tabs on my computer.
Not searching for the perfect music to feed my mood.
Not a chance to lose my train of thought.

Just me and my thoughts.

Yet, as I edit this post later, the music is coursing through my ears.

Music is good now, it’s no longer poison: I have direction.

Without direction, without action, stimulation and “tools” are distractions and addictions.

But the moment I pull the plug on those and let myself reconnect with my heart and listen to what my intuition has to say?

Suddenly I get my direction.
Suddenly I get the drive to act.
Suddenly I find the path to take.

And THEN I can flip on my music and get to work.

It’s when I keep looking at the tempting lights and the alluring sounds around me that I fail to recognize the path right before me.

It’s in the silence that I’ll find the answers I need.

Once I realize that those answers come within…

Then I no longer have any excuse not to take that step forward.

So will my inspiration come from outside of myself – from distractions and addictions?

Or will I dare to find the answer from within, quietly chattering away in the silence?

//

Image credit: Blake Richard Verdoorn (@blakeverdoorn) via Unsplash

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