Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat


The Power of Silence

mouth growlingDo you feel uncomfortable  when you’re with someone and there’s silence? Many of us feel a need to fill the void that it seems like silence creates I used to be like that. When I was a DoorMat, before I became comfortable with me, I’d be with someone who stopped talking and would feel a need to come up with something to say. Then I’d jabber away, feeling uncomfortable with how much I was talking just to fill in the silence.

The more I became comfortable in my own skin, the more I recognized the power of silence. Words aren’t always necessary to get a message across. Being able to sit quietly with someone you care about creates a lovely intimacy. You can speak with your eyes, and your smile. It’s very relaxing not to feel compelled to end the silence.

Silence can also empower you. When someone does you wrong you may feel a need to tell the person off. Don’t!  He/she knows what they did and probably have a good idea of how you feel. When you can control your need to address it, you’ll feel in control of yourself. And it makes the other person wonder what you’re thinking.

Scolding someone who did you wrong can make the person feel better. Like children, when someone does something that’s not right  or fair, they expect to be reprimanded, which in a way, takes away their guilt. It makes what they did feel resolved, like the door is closed on it since they’ve been punished with words. If you remain silent it’s still open. II someone tries to give you an excuse for his or her behavior, they want to be forgiven. Silence tells them it ain’t happening now.

There are people who believe that they can hurt or inconvenience you and if they say, “I’m sorry” or give an excuse for inexcusable behavior it makes everything OK. It doesn’t! After they apologize or explain, your silence will tell them that. If the person keeps trying to get a response from me, I have one word that I break the silence with—“whatever!” That sends a message that I’m not buying it and to let it go. “Whatever” says that you don’t want to hear their lame excuses or apologies.

The first time I tried the silent treatment was with a friend who was very self-absorbed. We were at a gathering and I got into a conversation with a guy. He and I were sitting together on a couch when Emma came over, heard he was a doctor and sat down on the other side of him. She did everything she could to get his attention. I wasn’t going to fight her for a guy, especially one I’d just met, so I quietly left. The next day Emma called to apologize. She kept emphasizing how much she wanted to marry a doctor, like that gave her the right to move in on a guy I was with.

My silence on the other end got her nervous and she began to cry, begging me to say something. I just said I had to go and I avoided her calls after that. I didn’t speak to her again for months, though she continued leaving me messages, begging for forgiveness. I felt calm not having to tell Emma off. She knew how I felt. Had I spoken to her it would have meant reliving the anger about what she did. Eventually we talked it it out. By then she was so full of guilt she swore to never do that she’d try harder to be a goods friend.

Empower yourself by getting used to being silent at key times. If someone does some thing you don’t like, send him or her a message with silence.Once someone who wanted me to absolve his guilt screamed at me, “Say something!” I just smiled. That said it all. zTry it.It gets great results.
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