Do you ever feel like the world we live in is overwhelmingly loud?
We are bombarded with multiple forms of technology (often all at once), marketing everywhere, music blaring everywhere, vehicles, neighbours, barking dogs and all sorts of other things. It can be hard. Overwhelming. Difficult to deal with.
I don't mean loud just in the sense of what we hear. I mean an assault on all our senses.
We live in a society that celebrates the loud, the extrovert. We advocate staying so busy that we don't have time for quiet. We don't celebrate space for reflection.
And this is really not working for us.
We view the introvert as the quiet or shy one that needs fixing, or the nerd (that as it turns out will probably grow up to make a ton of money), or the anti-social one (who could very well be struggling with moderate to extreme anxiety).
How did we get here? And how do we move forward differently?
I'm not sure how we got here. Susan Cain, in her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking, has an interesting theory. She believes that in the early years of the 20th century, when America transformed from a largely agricultural economy to an industrial one, that this new economy called for a more extroverted style - "a salesman, a social operator, someone with a ready smile, a masterful handshake, and the ability to get along with colleagues while simultaneously outshining them.”
And we're just trying to start to find our way back.
People are longing for that quiet space. Mindfulness, meditation and yoga are no longer viewed as being just for hippies (yay!) and spaces for quiet contemplation (with no reception or wifi) I think will become more and more in demand.
We know we need to shut off.
But how? Marketing continues to blare at us in new and innovative places. Technology develops to increase our addiction to social media and everything at our fingertips. We have potentially less access to natural spaces as our populations increase and development and the need for more natural resources increases with it (until we start engaging in better alternatives).
I don't mean to sound dire. Or preachy. Light and dark in all things.
I do worry though, that we are being overstimulated externally and under-developed where it really counts. On the inside. Where it's quiet.
We have to learn to see the immense value in doing this for ourselves, rather than listening to the voices that say it is a waste of time.
We have to find ways to carve out quiet more often. Space to think, and to foster our creativity. Time to access the wisdom that is within all of us.
Here are a few ideas:
1)Prioritise your time for yoga, meditation, prayer or contemplation. I know it's hard to fit it all in. I skip meditation days too. I definitely don't do yoga every day. But aren't our hearts and souls as important as the external parts of our bodies? Don't they deserve our time and care as a priority? I like to think that if I have time to shower and brush my teeth, that my internal guidance system deserves a similar amount of time. When we start focusing more on our insides and less on our external appearance, perhaps things will start changing around us. Maybe. It's worth a try.
2)Find a space. This is hard too, especially if you have a busy household. Might I suggest a lovely closet? Or wearing industrial earmuffs in your room with the door closed? These work for me. And yes, I do look like an anti-social freak show.
3)Give yourself permission. Go to bed early, even if you have visitors. I know this is considered rude. I don't always do it. But sometimes I do. No one has died. Go on a retreat. I just did. I came back with a quieter mind and a fuller heart. Even it's just for a weekend. Go for a bike ride on your own. You know what you need. So just do that.
4)Say no to things you don't want to do. I know this is hard too. I don't relish it. But I do it more and more for my own self-preservation, because that is more important than making sure I don't offend anyone.
5)Embrace who you are. Mostly, I think that when we embrace our highly sensitive natures, rather than continuing to believe there is something wrong with us, we can understand that perhaps that is the thing that is most right with us. That is the thing that tells us all this noise - both literal and metaphorical - is really not good for us or for the world around us.
And I know this. You'll be glad you took another step toward nourishing exactly the person you are.
Go well. Keep being you. Keep moving toward love...
and the Healthy Pursuit of Happiness, Sonia