Honouring quietness

19 Sep 2022
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Sometimes a description in a book will snag you, interrupting your flow and impel you to go back over the words. Recently I was deep into a non-fiction work where the writer was detailing how a fellow author had slipped away to avoid a celebratory meal at a festival. He had, he said, of late become ‘a connoisseur of quietness’ and preferred to return to the peace of his home. I liked this explanation because it honoured this part of his character. So often us noise-dodgers get a bad press.

A few years ago I was travelling by train in the opposite direction of most commuters. My stop was at the start of the journey and I would settle down with my coffee and newspaper in the empty Quiet Coach with some trepidation. Inevitably by stop three someone would get on barking into a mobile phone. With a polite hatchet face I would get up, point to the sign and ask them to stop. Remarkably they usually did. The problem was that by stop five more yakking passengers would have got on. To keep the peace I would have had to patrol the carriage like an unofficial railway inspector. I bought some very expensive noise cancelling headphones instead.

It's not unusual for extraneous noise to make us grumpy but some of us react so badly that murderous thoughts ensue. There’s even a name for it now – misophonia. It’s defined as a strong emotional response to sounds with three key emotional responses – anger, disgust and anxiety. Some sufferers are unable to eat with their family because the sound of loved ones masticating is unbearable. I had a lovely health-conscious colleague who would eat at her desk. She would crunch her way through celery, carrots, apples and crisp breads. She must have wondered why I would I would bolt for the door when she snapped open her lunchbox.

There’s of course a balance to be struck between being reclusive and enjoying the human race in all it’s variety - but with the sound turned down to a moderate level.

I wonder how many Moodscopers are misophonic too?

Lauren

A Moodscope member.

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Comments

Toby

Sept. 20, 2022, 4:40 a.m.

I am, and so is my wife! She can't bear to hear me eating, whereas the sound of the fridge turning on is for me, like nails down a blackboard to most people. But people talking loudly in public goes right through me too, and I began wearing headphones at work many years ago. Other factors apart - we had a 'good' lockdown, as noise was much reduced. I fondly remember those days when there were no aeroplanes, little traffic and working from home with no colleagues chatting and making noise.

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Isabella

Sept. 20, 2022, 5:52 a.m.

I didn’t know I had a condition :) I can’t bear any constant noise like an air containing unit. I can’t stay in cafes or restaurants where there is too much noise of talking or music. Screaming children are a positive no. I thought it was a response to my tinnitus? Thank you, Lauren, for the blog - very interesting and comforting to know others have similar responses. My friends don’t really seem to understand- now I can tell them I have misophonia, I’m not just complaining. X

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Isabella

Sept. 20, 2022, 5:59 a.m.

I’ve just looked it up….my reactions are not that intense, I do get angry and upset sometimes but not so extreme. It must be awful to have it so badly, I didn’t mean to be flippant. My apologies.

Bearofliddlebrain

Sept. 20, 2022, 6:37 a.m.

I don’t think you were really being flippant, Isabella, just telling us how it is for you. Bear x x x

Lauren

Sept. 20, 2022, 7:40 a.m.

Oh Isabella no need to apologise. As Bear said didn't think you were being flippant and appreciate your comments.xx

The Gardener

Sept. 20, 2022, 8:19 a.m.

Isabella, don't mind talking in cafes, I am possibly the worst offender. Over the years I have, I hoped, learned to subdue my rather dominant voice - teased or even told off by family and friends. Have often complained in restaurants about music, their excuse that it is for the staff! In summer we suffer, young people driving down our town roads far too fast, windows open, deafening blasts of music, must deafen them and actually be dangerous.

Oli

Sept. 20, 2022, 6:45 a.m.

Thanks for the blog Lauren. Deciding how I respond to Stuff-I-Find-Unpleasant can be really tricky for me but it’s often closely tied in with my mental health. I am absolutely no saint of tolerance insofar as people can do behaviours, including making noise, which cues my feelings of reactivity. The big question is often what’s a good response? Two examples: I live in a densely populated area and there are two really loud households quite nearby. The details aren’t important but by any measure of community living they are inconsiderate. I’m quite okay with my feelings of discomfort and hostility to these people — the problem is with them, not my response. But for irrational dislikes I have found that I do best if I can change my response. I don’t have misophonia but there are other stimuli which have produced overwhelming responses of aversion. I’ve had some success and life is easier because of it. My basic belief is that we can tolerate anything — even stuff we really don’t like. And with that belief the key move is deciding that I’m going to learn to tolerate the stimulus without the reaction. And the second example is, well, it’s that time of year again. My response to spiders, which used to be overwhelming disgust, is way better. They still startle me. I’d prefer not to deal with them — but I can, now. Like I say, I don’t have misophonia so I’ve not even walked a metre in a misphonic’s shoes, I don’t even know if the aversive response is capable of being changed. Would be interesting to find out!

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Lauren

Sept. 20, 2022, 7:59 a.m.

As always Oli your observations are food for thought. I think in some ways I'm expecting to get angry with noise on a train and the reward when it is noisy is internally - 'see I was right! I knew this would happen.' I am trying to be more thoughtful about my thoughts!

The Gardener

Sept. 20, 2022, 8:23 a.m.

Oli, the 'inconsiderate neighbour' is a really tough one. In theory you can complain, but likely to make them vindictive if the are totally anti-social. I have had two friends drivien to moving. Seems risky. If the place suits you in all other respects, who knows? You make a precipitous decision - then worse arrives in new house and you have to make new contacts. Or you find the previous awful neighbours move just after you did. Definitely no-wil.

Bearofliddlebrain

Sept. 20, 2022, 6:47 a.m.

Oh Lauren, what a great blog - a great blog. Like Töby and Isabella have said, there are things that are unbearable and that surely goes for most of us. I sometimes realise now that some noises are easier to get along with so you barely notice them: I have often marvelled whilst on a train, how can the thousands of people live near a train track (especially a busy one!) or a main road, bypass or the edge of a motorway but again, thousands do…when we moved we had been on a busy-ish private road and some visitors who were there at the school-run time or 5.30-6.30 coming home from work times, thought it was busy…we barely noticed after many years. Now we are on a slightly busier road - but have already got used to the traffic and always love to see and hear the horses…but the screaming kids? Ugh - am with Isabella on that - there’s no need for it half the time!! I don’t like the thump, thump, thump of a drum beat - especially in cars going by…if it’s too loud for me p what must it be doing to their ears?? I don’t like hearing people chew or see them with their mouths open…disgusting!! So maybe I have misophobia? Or I am misophonic? I bet we all are to a certain extent! Again, thank you - an interesting blog and now we know what that term means. Love and Bear hugs x x x

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Lauren

Sept. 20, 2022, 8:06 a.m.

Thanks Bear. I think you're right. We probably are all have noises that irritate and others that we don't even notice. I love birdsong but even then sometimes think 'enough already!'xx

Lauren

Sept. 20, 2022, 8:06 a.m.

Thanks Bear. I think you're right. We probably are all have noises that irritate and others that we don't even notice. I love birdsong but even then sometimes think 'enough already!'xx

Teg

Sept. 20, 2022, 7:12 a.m.

Hi Lauren A very interesting Post and I have learnt a new word today! I would regard myself as partly misophonic. I love being in company at certain times but also like periods of quietness. We have a stand alone conservatory a few yards from the house. It is called my man cave. When I need peace I retreat to my favourite easy chair with book. Close the door and I can hear almost nothing and cannot be seen from the house. Needless to say I have plenty of naps! One of the beauties of Moodscope is being able to communicate with so many like minded people but in perfect silence. Thank you, have a quiet day. Txx

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Lauren

Sept. 20, 2022, 8:11 a.m.

Your man cave sounds wonderful Teg and love your comment on the perfect silence of Moodscope. Enjoy today's nap if you have one. xx

Toby

Sept. 20, 2022, 8:31 a.m.

My man cave - sorry, garden office - is being delivered today! Hooray. Except, it's coming flat-packed so busy evenings ahead. But it will be worth it.

The Gardener

Sept. 20, 2022, 8:13 a.m.

Lauren, if I have 'misophonia' it is for physical reasons. Many years ago I fractured my scull. It did not affect my hearing, except reaction to loud noise. Screaming motor bikes, the French ~Air Force breaking the sound barrier (illegal over land) over amplified music can make me physically sick. I was mortified on my journey to UK for wedding. The bride, grand-daughter, found most 'important' guests at risk from travel problems. She phoned me just as I was getting on local train. Once on TGV I phoned her. Furious people in carriage told me to stop. There were NO silence notices in the carriage. I know how maddening it is, of course I stopped, and apologised. Then, of course, most of the carriage was on the phone, but texting on smartphones or lap-tops. Serves me right for being antipathetic to Smartphones. Really awful is people who play music, with ear-pieces, but so loud you can hear/feel the horrendous beat without the music. Thank you.

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Lauren

Sept. 20, 2022, 8:45 a.m.

The problem Gardener is that there is no prescribed etiquette for mobiles, devices, social media etc. We are making it up as we go along. I was upset by people filming the events around the Queen’s funeral. So many phones. Couldn’t they just use their eyes? Seemed disrespectful to me.

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Lauren

Sept. 20, 2022, 8:45 a.m.

The problem Gardener is that there is no prescribed etiquette for mobiles, devices, social media etc. We are making it up as we go along. I was upset by people filming the events around the Queen’s funeral. So many phones. Couldn’t they just use their eyes? Seemed disrespectful to me.

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Orangeblossom

Sept. 20, 2022, 9:01 a.m.

Thanks for your blog Lauren! It depends very much on my mood whether I can to certain levels of noise or sounds. My in-laws had a neighbour who played drums on Sunday mornings but not ridiculously early. My brother-in-law referred to him as ‘Cosmic Dave’. I never let on that I liked his drum playing. By this stage I began proceeding with caution when I was with them.

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Lauren

Sept. 20, 2022, 7:53 p.m.

Funnily enough I have neighbour who plays drums at 6ish most evenings but I don't mind at all and sometimes enjoy it. Strange.

Jul

Sept. 20, 2022, 11:41 a.m.

Hi Lauren. Interesting blog thank you. We're in Spain at the moment and we always notice and love the difference between the noise or lack of it in the cafes in France and the cafe noise once we cross the border into Spain. We love the vivaciousness and joie de vivre of the Spanish. But we stayed in a hotel the night before last and between the noise of the traffic and the church bells which chimed throughout the night on the hour, quarter hour, half hour and three quarters hour plus two lots of hourly numbers. So 5am would be chimed twice for instance in case you hadn't heard the first time, I was awake all night. Neither the traffic nor the very loud chimes cancelled the other out and if you shut the windows the air-conditioning made a loud noise too. But it was a lovely hotel!! I need periods of peace and quiet. Jul xx

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The Gardener

Sept. 20, 2022, 2:03 p.m.

Jul, surprised about church bells. For the first 15 or so years living here we had bells and clock all night. Then there was and act (in France, certainly,) when clocks could not chime between 10 pm and 7 am - think hooting car banned those hours too. I love my clock and bells - clock just striking 5 p.m., lovely 'boing'. If the Angelus wakes me up, I think good, only 7 a.m turn over and go to sleep again. Also, if sitting in garden, don't need to wear a watch. Wprst, hotel near traffic lights. xx

The Gardener

Sept. 20, 2022, 2:05 p.m.

P.S., hate air conditioning, have to have it in far East of course. The noise and dry air horrid. In Indian hotels they have main rooms so cold you have to wear a thick sweater. Old palaces great, wooden shutters, fans and mosquito nets.

Jul

Sept. 20, 2022, 3:53 p.m.

Yes I was surprised to hear the church bells going on all night as I knew about the ban in France. I too love the sound of the bells etc but not from 12 midnight to say 6pm. Our hotel was in a residential street so I guess the neighbours are used to it. When we were in Majorca earlier this year, the air conditioning was freezing even at 22 degrees which they said it should be set at. But the temperature in the room without it, was 30 but with no cold air blasting in your face. So I know what you mean about India. I much prefer hotel rooms with old fashioned radiators you can turn up or down and have the windows open instead. Jul ***

Teg

Sept. 20, 2022, 5:52 p.m.

Hi Jul Moodscope is fairly quiet normally! Enjoy the rest of your Spanish visit. Txx

Lauren

Sept. 20, 2022, 8:09 p.m.

Jul I stayed in a hotel in Sri Lanka once where the ceiling fan was so strong that I ended up sleeping under the bed. They were like helicoptor propellers! xx

Jul

Sept. 21, 2022, 5:35 a.m.

Haha Teg and Lauren. You both made me smile Jul ***

Mary Wednesday

Sept. 20, 2022, 4:27 p.m.

Thank you, Lauren; an interesting blog. A few years ago, I did some training that included a section on irritations and distractions. Some people have a strong preference in which side they are embraced/kissed/talked to. As my job involves being in close proximity with my clients, I try to ascertain this. We all have certain distractions we can deal with better than others. I can cope with a level of physical discomfort - a cold draft around my ankles, for instance, and some element of visual disturbance, like a flickering screen (although I always want to watch it) but find noisy chatter from the next table very disturbing. My daughter can listen to music while working, but I prefer silence. I dont think I am anywhere near as bad as you, however.

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Lauren

Sept. 20, 2022, 7:59 p.m.

Thanks Mary Wednesday. I've never considered that one side would be preferred to another. Something I've learned today too.x

Lauren

Sept. 20, 2022, 7:59 p.m.

Thanks Mary Wednesday. I've never considered that one side would be preferred to another. Something I've learned today too.x

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