Al-Anon Lifer

Anonymous sharings from a long-time member of Al-Anon, which is a safe place to recover from the effects of alcoholism in a friend or relative...

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The Gift of Silence

I'm not a very social animal so I still find silence in the presence of another person uncomfortable. I think I should say something or they should say something. But I have learned to be careful about what I say. I used to fill the void with pettiness or gossip, sprinkled with a lot of judgment.

I was reminded in a meeting this morning that silence is a tool I learned, a gift I can give myself and others. For example, when someone says something that makes me react with a strong feeling (in my head or heart), I don't have to say what I'm feeling. I can think about a response instead. I can take my time.

Or I can zip my mouth and say nothing. In this way, I have stopped many arguments before they took hold. I have also been able to keep family relationships intact rather than lose them, which I certainly would have had I kept on the path of destructiveness due to my vicious tongue.

This kind of silence is kind. It is not "giving the cold shoulder" which can be worse than just keeping quiet. It's not punishing someone for what I perceive to be an attack against me. To avoid this kind of silence, I can replace reacting with saying something neutral like "you may be right" or "that's an interesting way of looking at it."

However, I still have trouble coming up with a neutral statement when someone says or does something that I consider out of line. In this case, it is still best for me to say nothing at all. It keeps me from making the situation worse and possibly having to make amends later.

So now when I'm with someone, say driving in a car to an event, and the conversation has stalled, I can be grateful for the gift of silence. It's okay to not fill the airwaves with mindless chatter. If I'm really having a hard time with enjoying the silence, I can choose to turn on some music.

The point is that I have a choice. I'm not a victim of someone else's opinions or my own reactions to those. Thoughts and feelings come and go. They are not right or wrong. It's what we do with them that matters. Silence is one tool of many we receive in Al-Anon. For me, it has been golden.

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At Sunday, August 19, 2012 12:20:00 AM, Blogger Fisher of men said...

You can express strong feelings in a polite way. Silence is sometimes good, but rarely.

At Monday, January 07, 2013 9:53:00 PM, Anonymous Valerie said...

Whilst I have found that silence can be good at times there are others when I need to be able to speak up so as not to give the impression that I am agreeing with all that is happening especially when there are strong opinions being given that are hurtful to others. I have learnt from working the twelve steps that I am intitled to be able to say that I am feeling uncomfortable with the conversation and lets change the subject. This enables me to change my old habits of being compliant or confluent. Today speaking my truth is important to me as in the past I wouldnt do this thus letting myself down badly. I know now that strong words to me about me or about other "things" are someone elses opinion and I dont have to agree - life is too short to waste it on what can be seen sometimes as gossip or underminding other people places and things. Al-Anon teaches me that acceptance is my first step - courage to change what I can is the second part and first things first (the principles of 12steps)
Love in Al-Anon - Valerie (New Zealand)


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