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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Zunter

The Most Powerful Thing I’ve Done Recently is Nothing

The best thing I've done recently was nothing. Absolutely nothing.

When people tried to rile me up with insensitive words, I said nothing. When I felt like saying something negative to OR about another person, I said nothing.

When I saw my child making a mistake — one that would not hurt her physically but one that she would learn from — I did nothing. I made no action to prevent it. I allowed her to journey through that lesson on her own.

When my teenage stepson made a dramatic choice, one that I knew he would regret and that would be difficult for him to endure emotionally, I did nothing. I let him be. I let him walk through that choice he made and suffer the consequences of that choice.

All of these ‘nothings’ were not easy.

It’s agonizing at times not to say what I want to say while remaining quiet. It’s extremely challenging not to take action to fix other people’s problems — especially when you’re used to doing it or you are — quite frankly— addicted to doing it.

But saying or doing nothing has been surprisingly liberating.

The burden I would usually place upon myself of needing to control, fix, or dictate commands either my family or to people who I am close to about what I believe they should or shouldn’t do has been a heavy weight. I placed that weight upon myself. It needed to be lifted. Not only for myself and my own well-being but for the people whom I love who need to start taking responsibility for their own choices and figuring out their own problems.

Sometimes doing absolutely nothing can be the best thing you ever decide to do.

Saying or doing nothing when there’s a little voice screaming inside of you can be exasperating, of course. It takes practice to do nothing.

We spout our opinions all day long whether it’s online, in person, or within our own households. Sometimes we say things just to hear the sound of our own voices. It can be quite freeing to just quell that insistent need to talk for that sake of talking.

Everyone has an opinion. But not everyone can master the art of saying nothing when you want to say everything.

I have avoided unnecessary arguments, turned away from potentially regretful statements said to others, and my life has become much more peaceful since I decided to quiet my voice when it was not necessarily needed in any given situation.

And this is not to say that I don’t have opinions or that I am afraid to speak up about my opinions. This is about knowing when something needs to be said and when it doesn’t need to be said.

It is also about allowing those around me to come to their own conclusions in their own time without me constantly barraging them with instructions, opinions, or my own experiences projected onto them.

Doing nothing is really about responsibility and accountability. I am responsible for controlling my own reactions and I am accountable for my own choices. However, so is everyone else.

Continually operating in damage control mode in order to control what happens to other people or trying to manipulate their choices when I don’t agree with them is not only exhausting for myself but it can be toxic to all involved.

Being a parent is an excellent lesson in this practice. As you raise, protect, and care for your children, you realize that at some point that you simply have to let go and allow them to flounder in order for them to learn from their mistakes. It’s painful but also necessary.

I really thought that doing nothing would be stifling or uncomfortable. However, when put to practice within my own life it turned out to be one of the most powerful lessons in letting go that I have ever learned.

More from Michelle: How Being A Mistress Changed My Perception of Marriage

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