When I was in grad school completing a master’s program, I used to sit on the couch to do my coursework, with the TV on in the background.
I thought the white noise was soothing and kept me distraction-free so I could concentrate. I was proud of my disciplined study habit.
But what was really happening is that while I was blocking out some of the internal distraction from mind chatter, I was decreasing my ability to attend to my coursework efficiently, and also robbing myself of the signals from my intuition that there was internal work to be done.
Unconsciously, I was using the television noise to block out uncomfortable thoughts and emotions. And the problem with that was it made me numb to the feelings I was repressing and enabled me to avoid dealing with problems.
Repressing feelings just makes problems more difficult to deal with when finally acknowledged.
Years after completing the master’s program, I began a doctoral program and I struggled with self-esteem while doing so. Studying and writing were agonizing.
Several years into the doctoral program, I began doing coursework in silence and noticed that I was often sidetracked by emotional tangents. I would go down the rabbit hole of questioning my ability and my worth.
The surfacing of those feelings, while I did coursework, made me want to avoid doing coursework due to the discomfort. Yet, one does not graduate without completing assignments. So, I persisted in the discomfort of coursework and my thoughts.
Looking back, I am grateful that I chose silence which allowed my repressed emotions to bubble to the surface. Because even though it was uncomfortable to acknowledge my repressed emotions, it allowed me to process my emotions.
Through this emotional processing, I discovered my biggest problem was incongruence with earning an advanced degree. I didn’t believe I deserved one.
Uncovering this unconscious belief and processing the accompanying emotions helped me stop questioning my ability and worth.
Eventually, my coursework didn’t feel so oppressive. And I finished strong and on time.
What are you masking with noise?