“I LOVE the use of Silence!” the instructor exclaimed, about my therapeutic approach on this past week.
I was practicing an open role play in front of my peers at work with my challenging client to gain positive feedback about my therapeutic approach. I was at a conference learning about the impact of trauma on our decisions and how our traumatic experiences often dictate our ability to be less aware of our actions. The instructor was teaching several important points and I was glad to spend a full day in her presence. As nervous as I was, I determined I would act as if my client and I were the only two in the room. My silence to a few of her responses caused her to contemplate, I noticed. To come to conclusion. To find relief and release.
Actually, I wasn’t aware of the degree to which I used silence in as a therapeutic response, until the instructor mentioned it. One of my greatest pleasures in working with my clients is seeing them have conversations with themselves and figure out their own dilemmas with little prompting. Self-discovery can be freeing.
Then I began to think about why I use this approach. I love silence. I didn’t realize how much until this very moment. So then, I couldn’t stop thinking…. I thought about all the ways I have learned so much over the years by just listening to myself. I have had literal silent years that spoke volumes to my soul. (My soul being my mind, will and emotions.) I recall how quietness has brought me a certain peace. I thought about all those nights I stayed up and cultivated the voices my spirit spoke to me and began to create filters in my mind that began to dictate my peace. One particular filter that spoke to me would say: “Create Joy, Jennifer.” Another filter would firm up my soul by saying:”You are worth more than you know.” and yet another: “Seek peace and pursue it.” (Ps.34:14) Little did I know these filters were God’s word and would protect my mind from self defeating thoughts, attitudes and behaviors.
I realized then, that I wasn’t really speaking to myself… I was simply giving God space to speak to me. Perhaps that’s what I offer my clients as well. Interesting shifts happen in your life when you offer God space to speak.
So now… I take the time to listen…because I’d rather know what my spirit says any day rather than listen the unrelenting banter of the television and other people’s conversations.
I looked up the word silence and do you know I found it to mean: “to put doubt and fears to rest.”
Hmmm… I thought…
Is it possible to practice an approach and not be aware of its Power? But of course.
There are three major instances where I recognize in the Word where silence was used as an extreme advantage. Jesus did it all the time. He was silent when they accused the prostitute of having sex with several men and required in judgment that she be stoned. His very first response in John 8:6 was to bend and write on the ground. Then Jesus said: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And then….he stooped and very silently wrote again on the ground. On another occasion, Jesus was silent when He was falsely accused and put to death on the cross. I don’t recall many words… and those most powerful actually, were the ones that were the most potent: “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” A powerful release for those stuck in unforgiveness mode… if they can only begin to notice the freeing power of letting go. And one more… Elijah… his response to God after running and hiding and in his worst state of mind and his depression and fear. (I Kings 19:12) Elijah found God in a quiet space, after all the clamor surrounding him.
I thought about where the silence began for me.
It began in a place of trying to understand. As a child, there was a lot I could not understand. Coming from an alcoholic home, there was lots of turmoil from about the age eight til eleven years old. So, of course – (the ones who are sane) try to make sense of it by talking to themselves… Well, let’s say I spent a lot of time back then trying to make sense of the things my body, mind and spirit spoke to me. I learned early on that fear and anxiety were very powerful emotions and that I also had to learn to talk to God in my spirit, to calm my spirit.
My boss later described my ‘modesty in my therapeutic approach’ as being one of like the puffer fish…. ‘you don’t know what you are dealing with, until it all comes out at once.’ I thought it was an interesting analogy, because puffer fish can be elusive at times, I thought. Yet then I realized the silent and surprising response of the puffer fish can also be used as a source of protection. Silence can also be used to protect us. Just like Jesus protected the prostitute. Elijah was comforted in the small whisper of God’s voice and we are comforted by Jesus’ penetrating silence and humility on the cross.
It is pertinent for us to LISTEN to our souls. Prompting ourselves to listen to ourselves can be extremely freeing.To silence your soul, you must practice the skill of listening. Your spirit always speaks…. you just need to learn to cultivate a listening ear within. Perhaps you might find this freedom, too.