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Why do people fear silence?

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Silence has become so rare that many people dread it. While some people like to have their peace and quiet, others feel totally uncomfortable when they don’t hear any noise at all. Silence is very valuable for our brain and well-being and yet people often try to avoid it, leaving the TV or radio on on the side. In the city in particular, it is almost impossible to experience complete silence, whether it is the noise of the neighbours, the street in front of the house, distant building sites or simply the dull background noise of the city. It’s no wonder that many people find sudden silence unpleasant and threatening. Something is playing during almost every activity, e.g. music while working out in the gym, a podcast while jogging, cleaning and cooking, i.e. people flood themselves with audiovisual stimuli and, conversely, they are always available through smartphones and tablets. However, some people also find it difficult to endure silence in other situations, because instead of talking about trivial matters, for example, you could simply walk along in silence with friends or acquaintances instead of filling every minute with words. People are obviously no longer used to silence because they are rarely alone and perhaps can’t stand it that well. You have to actively choose to be still, because instead of simply sitting on the sofa and listening to your own breathing, you first have to tidy up your flat, write a quick email or finish listening to an audio book. Yet it is precisely this silence that contributes to further development, as the positive effect of ten minutes of meditation a day has long been proven. Silence can also be a taboo, because if you meet a distant acquaintance on the bus and don’t feel like making small talk, but instead of spending the journey in silence, you feel obliged to talk, even if you don’t actually have anything to say to each other. After all, when a person is quiet, it immediately signals that they are angry, disinterested, sad or inattentive, and silence often evokes feelings of loneliness and abandonment. The most important reason, however, is that people are afraid to face themselves, i.e. silence, stillness and introspection may be so frightening for some because of the need to get in touch with oneself in such moments. For many, this is associated with negative feelings, which they therefore try to avoid, because negative feelings belong just as little in society as communal silence. In silence, however, you can learn to listen to your own voice again and it will tell you where to go. Practising silence means connecting with fears and desires, healing wounds, rediscovering yourself, gaining strength, accepting, letting go and recognising what you can and have already achieved.