Why Are We Frightened By Silence?

12 October, 2020
Does silence make you uncomfortable? Does it trigger loneliness, fear, and past pain that you'd prefer to avoid? If so, this article is for you. Learn why embracing silence can help you improve your relationship with yourself.

You get in the car and turn on the radio. When you arrive home, you turn on the TV. You have music playing on your phone while you take a shower or wash the dishes. So many of us are frightened by silence and we show it a thousand times a day. Some people are terrified by the absence of sound. If you’re one of them, your fear can make you miss out on important opportunities. Perhaps if you knew the value of silence, you’d stop avoiding it at every turn.

When was the last time you were in complete silence? Can you remember experiencing an absence of external and internal noise? For most people, this is practically impossible to achieve and sustain. Not only that but many find it dangerous and disturbing. But why? Is there anything to be done about it?

A guy standing by a window.

Frightened by silence

You may have already noticed this tendency in yourself and others. Once you become aware of it, it’s easy to spot. Most of us show signs many times a day.

We surround ourselves with devices that provide visual and auditory stimulation. Not just when we have some downtime and are looking for entertainment. We also use them alongside nearly all of our day-to-day activities. External noise is present while we clean, cook, or exercise.

The same thing happens when you spend time with your coworkers, family, or friends. Even if you just run into a neighbor on the elevator, you probably prefer a banal conversation to staying silent. More often than not, neither party has anything meaningful to say. Even so, you’ll make an effort to fill the scary silence with words.

As hard as it is to escape from external noise, it can be even more difficult to silence that inner voice. Do you ever lie in bed, in the stillness of the night, mind racing with thoughts about the past and future? This is another mechanism to avoid the silence of the present.

Why are you frightened by silence?

You don’t know yourself

Silence is scary because it involves being in touch with yourself. You avoid silence because you’re avoiding yourself. It’s a fear of being alone with the side of yourself that you try not to see, with all the fear and pain you do your best to ignore. It’s scary to hear your own voice, shouting at you to be heard over the outside noise.

You don’t know yourself because you’re never truly alone. You don’t know yourself, and you’re afraid to. When silence comes, it comes with all the darkness and shadows you’d rather not think about. The anxiety, loneliness, emptiness, and anger that bubble up to the surface when things go quiet are part of you as well, even if you’ve been ignoring them.

You’re not used to it

This isn’t entirely your fault. You were born and live in a society that doesn’t teach you to listen to yourself. Instead, you’re taught to keep busy and constantly distract yourself.

Self-knowledge, personal development, and meditation might seem like practices reserved for people who are psychologically impaired in some way and need professional help. However, in reality, they can improve your well-being.

Silence is almost taboo, and society teaches us to see it as something negative. If someone is quiet, it means they’re mad, offended, sad, or absent. Silence evokes feelings of loneliness, emptiness, shyness, and negativity. However, it certainly doesn’t have to be that way.

A woman meditating who isn't frightened by silence.

Practice silence

Practicing silence can help you connect with your fears and desires. It allows you to get to know yourself, heal, and come back into yourself. Being in silence gives you the opportunity to discover new desires and opinions and recover your strength and inner voice. There’s nothing like knowing yourself, accepting yourself, loving yourself, and knowing how to be with yourself.

Only you can fill your emptiness, heal your wounds, and overcome your fears. Only you can work towards your dreams and goals. So why are you so afraid of being with yourself? Give silence a chance!

  • Le Breton, D. (2006). El silencio. Madrid: Sequitur.
  • Hanh, N. T. (2016). Silencio: el poder de la quietud en un mundo ruidoso. Barcelona, España: Urano.