Punishing Silence

Silence is a very strong form of aggression because the message behind it is to tell the other “you don’t exist”, which is the worst message we can receive


By: Mileyda Menéndez Dávila

Email: sentido@juventudrebelde.cu

2017-03-28 | 17:04:32 EST

For Chilean Psychologist Pilar Sordo, silence shared by a couple is loud because the hidden tension can be felt. In the practice of clinic sexology, this is one of the most significant and frequent indicators in the deterioration of a relationship.

“Silence is a very strong form of aggression because the message behind it is to tell the other “you don’t exist”, which is the worst message we can receive” the expert wrote on her blog. Avoiding conflict by not talking is not the solution, it worsens the situation instead, since it adds more anger and makes it more and more difficult to restart the conversation.”

There are two important characteristics in this mistreatment: The first is that it is not only seen in couples, but even in other significant relationship like ex-couples, descendants from the current couple and in-laws, the “culturally” established enemies who cause such a reaction.

The second is that it often becomes in a two-way form of violence: the situation carries on indefinitely if none of the two tries to close the rift due to a pried which is bigger than love (killing it eventually) or for the assumption that the conversation would be unproductive.

Nobody wins, Pilar said. Conflicts are solved through negotiation and that implies trying to understand each other.

Countdown 

Silence is not always bad: If a quarrel about a new or thorny issue is coming and you don’t know what will be the outcome, it is good to bring it to a halt to reflect and choose the arguments carefully. Such pause should not be too long, to avoid the other person’s uneasiness, and you can consider it a waste of time if you use it to prepare a new attack or dig up in the past to get away with it.

At the moment of restarting the discussion looking in the eyes helps, talking quietly, not interrupting the other’s speech, or expressing snap judgements, and first and foremost calling upon the strengths of the relationship and the good mood before the approach of new differences.

It is also advisable to focus on the problem rather than the person or on the bad experience of the past.

Emotional Reset

A form of silence which becomes overwhelming is that of people who feel trapped in a depressing loneliness, despite living with a partner or in family, because they do not find anything in common with the rest.

If you do not have obligations in that home or are not afraid of a new start, it is advisable to break the stagnation and seek other ways temporarily or permanently. Although it can be with a new love, it is better to stay alone until you understand what caused upset and accept how you helped create that desert in your life.

Other circumstances of temporary instrospection are worth of respect: the mourning for a significant loss, the reflective transit between adolescence and youth maturity, the conscious periods of meditation for spiritual growth, being convalescence after a sickness which took away your physical and mental energy.  

If that mutism becomes cronic or is accompanied by other alarming signs like carelessness of personal hygiene, failure to comply with everyday tasks, lack of appetite, sex or other habitual sources of pleasure and absences from home without reason or rare attitudes, then it’s time to seek help: you can be going through a psychotic crisis or comsuming toxic substances whose effect were miscalculated when introducing them.

If your partner or someone very close shows such signs, seek help from people whose authority is recognized by him or her (parents, bosses, teachers, family doctors, community leaders) to suggest ways to redirect existence, or call (113) to the antidrug support line. 

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