Melissa Lee-Tammeus, PhD/LMHC View Entire Blog

Listening to the Quiet

Lately, I have discovered something about myself. I am slowly becoming a quiet person. This is big news coming from a loud mouthed Leo who used to do or say anything to get attention. Pierce your navel for you at a party? Check. Get a nose ring? Check. Have a comment for every conversation ever involved in or even the ones not? Check. Be the one to talk to this or that person? Check. Be the one to get the party started? Check. Nude beach? Check. Color my hair all different shades? Check. Make a lot of noise? Check. Wear the highest heels ever? Check. (Well, truth be told, I still do this one – there’s just too many shoes to ignore out there).

But, as I have aged and the longer I work in this career called mental health counseling and teach to my college students, I have found out many things. I am beginning to really observe others who are on the quieter side and am starting to see an incredible strength in them I never truly appreciated before. I am discovering some amazing things on this journey of just being quieter.

1) The quietest people, when given the time and platform, have very important things to say.

2) There is beauty in silence. When we allow the quiet, emotions have a chance to speak all on their own.

3) Truly hearing someone requires listening without talking. To be in that present moment and not be preparing to say something back is incredibly freeing.

4) Interrupting with the pretense that you are “so excited” to add your two cents is simply disrespectful.

4) Despite all the chatter, not a lot gets said most of the time.

5) It’s okay not to be the center of attention. This does not mean you are not important. This means that you don’t need to be the center of attention to know you are important.

6) You learn an awful lot if you just shut up.

7) Just because you are the one talking, it doesn’t necessarily mean people are listening.

8) Your words matter more when they are spoken less.

Ever know that person who never shuts up? You walk away from them knowing everything about them and they didn’t even ask you how you were? Yep, me too.

I don’t want to be that person. The less I become that person, the more I see that in others. It’s discouraging. So much chatter. So little communication.

I used to think that in order to prove my knowledge or worth or show I was paying attention, I had to make sure everyone knew I was there. That my opinion was heard.

Now, not so much.

I think I’ve come to a place in my life in which I am comfortable not bleating my own horn or making sure people see me. I’m good. I don’t need your approval to know my own worth. And I can be quiet and simply watch the chaos around me. Or listen to someone else with the pure joy of truly understanding what they are saying.

Now, believe me, you. I speak up when I believe it is important. But, if I am really honest, over the years, much of the things that have come out of my mouth – all that talking – well, it wasn’t that important. It was just attention seeking. That’s a tough thing to admit.

I am now learning to pick my conversations. I am learning to let others have the floor. I am learning that my worth is not in my ability to talk more than the next person, or to talk louder than the next person, or have the better story, or have the only story.

What I am really learning is that being quiet is okay.