Sometimes being a friend means mastering the art of timing. There is a time for silence. A time to let go and allow people to hurl themselves into their own destiny. And a time to prepare to pick up the pieces when it’s all over.Gloria Naylor
Sometimes it’s awkward being silent when a friend is talking. After all, most people live in societies in which silence is not a valued trait of a friend. After all, friends share–thoughts, ideas, feelings, fears. We share our reactions and our pain and our dreams, and the only way to do that really is through speech, isn’t it?
Sometimes we also like to give advice. We tell ourselves that it’s because we’re friends, but the bottom line is that all advice is at the very, very bottom an attempt to control another person’s actions in the hope that the person will have a positive experience as the result of our advice.
But one of the best things we can do for an alcoholic friend often is to let that person hit rock bottom. Sometimes the best thing we can do for a friend who is hurting is simply to listen, without offering any advice at all. We usually can’t pull another person out of a depression, but we can be there to listen when that friend needs to work things out aloud. We can’t fix a friend’s marriage, but if we’re quiet that friend may be able to come up with a course of action on his or her own just by putting into words the feelings or fears that he or she is experiencing.
We’ll be there for our friends, but being there for them doesn’t necessarily mean fixing their problems for them. Sometimes being there is simply being there, without advice, without any suggestions. It’s difficult to do, but it can be one of the most important skills we can develop.
Questions to ponder:
1. When is it best to stay silent? Is it easy to do so?
2. Why do so few societies value silence? How does that lack of value affect us as individuals?
3. What kinds of opportunities do you have to practice silence? Do you take advantage of those opportunities?
For further thought:
The world would be happier if people had the same capacity to be silent that they have to speak.Baruch Spinoza
Credit: Living Life Fully