The Power of Silence

Researchers have shown that it takes two positive comments to offset one negative, and some believe the ratio should be 5-to-1 for loved ones, spouses, parents, children, etc.

We seem to have a built-in bias toward negative information and negatives increase disproportionately over positives. That’s why personal insults or criticism hit us harder and stay with us longer.

Sunday night I wrote a post about my experience at the #140ConfOnt entitled . It was hard. It was terrifying. It was a mistake.

However, Monday morning I awoke to an avalanche of support. People thanking me for writing my truth. People who were proud, could relate and were relieved to hear they weren’t alone.

Close to two hundred of people read my blog. A huge amount left comments. Words of wisdom, support and thanks.

I was over-whelmed. I was thankful. I was happy with myself for publishing it when I truly wanted to send it to the trash. I was proud.

Then I showed it to a loved one. Someone important in my life. Someone I look up to. Someone I trust. Their reaction was unexpected. It shocked me.

I was lost. I was hurt. All the positives my friends had been saying all day were gone. Dust. Worthless. Irrelevant.

The sad part was that the person didn’t “say” anything. They just said “huh.” and shrugged it off.

Silence. Nothing…. “Huh.”

Silence – it’s a powerful tool. Almost more powerful than a negative in that it leaves the receiver at a complete loss as how to read the reaction.

Silences leaves you second guessing and, because of the “bias towards the negative”, always believing the worst.

People think I am strong. I am not.

I spiraled. I went right back to regretting the post. I went right back to feeling like I never should have walked in that room. I went right back to believing that the whole thing was a mistake.

I went home that night afraid to hear my husband’s thoughts. I knew he had not read it yet. He knew the topic and had seen some of the feedback but he hadn’t actually read it yet. What was he going to think. Would he be silent?

Lucky for me, he is a wonderful support. He was proud and just as positive as the hundreds of others. And, although I still have a knot in my gut stewing the sadness that one response created, somewhere in all of those research documents it must show that a husband’s love can overpower all the uncertainty the world can offer.



About Jen Black

Jennifer is a stay at home mom of three raising her family with her "agvocating" husband on a farm in Huron County, Ontario. She is a designer, photographer, Social Media junkie and blogger. Her former life included advertising, marketing, and life in the big city. You can follow her on twitter @jennileeblack

Posted on September 21, 2011, in Just my thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Oh so true… and glad DH is supportive. And you may have hit the nail on the head for the reason that many people do not speak out, or admit they need help. Many are trying to hold it altogether for their loved ones and those whose judgement matters.
    Worse is people with suicidal thoughts rarely talk to loved ones or family.
    I find that with age also comes a shrugging of shoulders, rather than knotted stomach – I care more about how I feel about my actions, finally. Hang in there!

    • My mother in law always says “only you can decide how you’re going to let a situation make you feel”. I know she’s right but it’s still so hard to not care what others think or do. I think I need a lesson on just letting this go. :S

  2. I read it. I related. I support you. I’m sorry someone made you feel inferior. They had no right. One of the things that hold me back from logging is turning off the ‘trolls’. Stick to those who support. I do. We will hang tight at Blissdom k roomie? I feel the same as you 🙂

    • I’m learning how much this negative energy effects me and in turn my kids. Next step is to turn it off and focus on the good.
      Blissdom will be fun. I’m really looking forward to facing my fears head on. Glad you’re going to be there with me. 🙂

  3. Thanks for sharing, Jen – both this one & the post from before. I fall into the “only hearing the negative” often myself. I need to listen to your mother-in-law too.
    Referring to your hesitation to meet new people, I hope to be in the room some day. I’ll be the one who introduces myself to all unfamiliar faces but edits and retypes my comment 10 times because I’m not confident in my writing at all!

  4. It’s so easy to spiral from the negative. Even with the 100 positive. When we learn the trick to ignoring, we’ll share.

  5. Oh Jen. 2 Thumbs way up on this post. I nodded my way through it. I empathize with you 100% on what you wrote, and I commend you for writing it in the first place, admitting out loud how it made you feel. I am in the EXACT same boat right now. I have recieved many many positive comments about my blog lately, but the few “indifferent” responses, that I have had directly, or heard of especially by those who are supposed to care, cut right to the heart. I don’t know why, especially after all the positive, but they do. I could go on, but I will leave it there. It’s difficult to let it go and not have it bother you, but I try to remember that usually the negativity or indifference has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with what is or isn’t going on in that person’s life. HUGS buddy.

    • Thank you for the repy Melissa. It’s hard when strangers and acquaintances provide something that should come from loved ones. For the record I think your writing is fabulous. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. AND, having you say you like my post means the world. Thank you. 🙂


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