• Aranka de Vries

The muffling experience

Please let me introduce you to two of the things I love:

1: the psychology of human behaviour. 2: earplugs. đź‘‚


Whilst making myself comfortable in bed, squeezing my earplugs, squishing them in my ears, then during the sigh of relief as the world turned silent, I came to an important realisation: we as Homo sapiens, show earplug-behaviour. Let me explain why. I guarantee, it’s pretty heart-opening (as psychology and earplugs can be). As the only animals on this planet, we are able to delay the dealing with our pain. We have our ways to save it in our system, and store it for later. This is wonderful, as it allows us to organise a funeral and start the process of grief when the guests went home. It makes us capable to first call 112, and when the ambulance is gone, we collapse with shaking legs.

The same we do for our physical pain, we can do for our emotional pain. Some of the hurt we have experienced in the past, we have stored for later. We simply just weren’t capable at the time to deal with it in the present moment. Most likely because we were young, and dependent on others for our survival. This is a great way to secure our safety and grow up. That doesn’t mean we were not affected, we were certainly, although we might not recognise the sounds telling us: cause we muffled them.


This is the part where the earplugs come in: We put earplugs in our ears, so we sleep. We need sleep. It muffles the sound from outside and brings silence. In the morning we just take them out of our ears and we can perceive sound again. This is the way to use an earplug appropriately. But there is a risk of getting attached to the comfortable silence. What if we cannot stand that loud noise, put earplugs and then don’t deal with the cause of the noise? We might never take them out again, afraid that the noise will penetrate our sensitive system again and cause discomfort. No, better keep them in. And then that becomes the new normal. We might even forget the plugs are there. Life is just a bit softer. Some sounds permeate, but most don’t and actually, that feels pretty safe. No risk of hurt no more.


If you think now “that won’t happen to me”, I can tell you: this it what we do more often than we want to admit. We don’t deal with the cause of the pain, we turn away and keep ourselves away from discomfort. This is okay, as soon as we remember we will need to face that trigger as soon as we can, we will need to take the earplugs out. They are for temporary use only.


If we don’t, if we keep shying away, our sacrifice is bigger than the hurt has ever been. We will not hear the whispers of our beloved in our ears in the morning, we will not hear the birds starting the day, we will not hear the rain coming. And so we forget. We forget why we are here. We forget the bad, but also the good stuff!

The sacrifice is to big to keep numbing the sounds of the world and the voice of your heart. Be brave, open your ears, listen. It might be worth the shaky legs.

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