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Please, Stop the Noise!

My neighborhood is typically quiet during the day except for the weekly lawn care company visits. My office has been in my home for years. Rarely have I ever been interrupted by external clamor. Growing up in New York City, noise was a given, and an adjustment that everyone made as a normal function. Whoever expected COVID to also bring with it inconsistent, intrusive and untimely racket! Between tree companies, road repairs, leaf blowers, lawnmowers, paving companies, roofers, siders, window replacements, gutter installers and delivery trucks, my street is busier than living on a major thoroughfare. Planning around the unexpected is impossible. The single benefit in this commotion is finding improved cardiac activity while bolting for the front door to flag down the offender of the moment, pointing frantically at my phone or laptop. This watchdog/time police role is exhausting, with no end in sight. Yesterday, my next door neighbor decided that mid-day was a good time to shoot baskets in the driveway after he stowed the chain saw he’d powered up to attack a tree that’s been dead for ten years. Too much time at home has made everyone more attuned to their work/living space. Remodeling is pervasive and while it’s a bright part of the economy, it’s impacting work schedules and certainly not only mine. Headphones help, but they’re not always suitable on zoom calls. More adjustments to be made and I’m learning by observing my own reactions. Yes, the world can be a noisy place. There are sounds from the outside world that we cannot control in addition to the clatter we allow into our lives. From television to radio and mobile devices, we often turn to these distractions without thinking. Is it with purpose or to drown out our own thoughts because there is discomfort with silence? If our thoughts prompt our feelings and we are then moved to action, how is downtime and/or silence factored into the day? There’s no substitute for stillness. It need not be a prolonged, anxiety filled time. However, an awareness of how much we use noise to keep us separate from our inner selves can also be a profound awakening. People walking with headphones while also communicating on their phones has been the norm and in COVID, even more so. When we were able to be at the gym, almost everyone, me included, was listening to our music or watching/listening to the TVs. And if not on an instrument of choice, there was background noise. Sound is everywhere, some unwelcomed and some that gives us information and calm. Notice when or if ever, you choose to be present and connected in the quiet? Noise as a distraction affects us in many ways. Is it entertaining or numbing, educational content or a static din? While there’s no reason to subject yourself to unnecessary clatter, does inserting your earpieces protect or separate you from your environment? Is it an automatic response in your day or is it specific to a time/place? Drowning out thoughts and emotions you may find uncomfortable or overwhelming can also complicate those same issues by delaying your attention to them. By tuning out noise and embracing silence, you may be surprised at emotions that might have been suppressed and are now free to flow. Opting for a distraction free early morning is a good start. Refrain from turning on the TV until the evening, or limit it to specific programs or to your workouts. We have more technology and tools at our disposal than ever before and we are also at choice in how we use them. Remember that silence can be golden too! However comfortable you assumed you were with change, it may morph into overwhelming anxiety that was never anticipated. This makes it the ideal time to engage the support of a career coach with experience in helping professionals achieve better, faster, results. At KICKSTART Your Transition we offer a broad range of services to fit your needs. ©MWeisner2020

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