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Silence and Self-Control

What would be a difficult change to make in your daily life?  When we make resolutions to improve our lives, whether making a resolution about eating or drinking, or exercise, they also challenge our self-control. When Mary-Lou took a sponsored silence in aid of Guideposts, she discovered even more about herself.

Mary-Lou Sponsored Silence

Mary-Lou loves to talk.  In fact she is well known for not shutting up! So Mary-Lou decided to take a real challenge for herself, a sponsored silence for 12 hours. The 12 hours she chose? It wasn’t just staying at home on her own and having an early night, but during a shift at her local pub.

Mary-Lou likes to help charities with a fundraiser every year. This time she chose to raise money and awareness for Guideposts and children’s grief support charity SeeSaw.

“I like to feel that I am contributing to help others in the community who don’t have the advantages I do. We as a community should join together and support each other – it’s the idea of the whole village raising a child, not just the parents.

“Some people I know rely on Guideposts’ services for support, and I have heard really good feedback from them. I have also heard about the Guideposts’ groups for people with dementia, and it touched my heart, so I felt I was doing it for them.”

As well as the sponsored silence, Mary-Lou arranged a raffle (which she called once she was allowed to speak again!), which attracted lots of support. In total she has raised over £1500, an amazing amount.

What was the sponsored silence easy?

“I thought it was going to be quite easy, but it wasn’t at all.  I use my voice a lot, I’m a big communicator both at work and outside. To lose that part of me was more emotional than I realised it was going to be.

“In the pub, there were lots of people who I knew there to support me. They thought I couldn’t do it – so of course I wanted to prove them wrong. And the people who I didn’t know, I approached and explained on my notepad what was happening, and they were very supportive. I had great sponsorship from friends and strangers alike.”

Did you find anything surprising?

Mary-Lou with notepad in mouth "Go away, I'm on a mission!"

“I found the sponsored silence particularly interesting, as I have worked a lot with children with Special Educational Needs who find communication difficult. They often can’t express what they want to, and when they can’t make themselves understood they show ‘negative’ behaviour.

“Doing the sponsored silence, I unexpectedly found myself in similar behavioural patterns: I got frustrated that people couldn’t understand me, and I ended up sighing, putting my hands in the air, and rolling my eyes in frustration.

“I found I was almost interrupting conversations (notepad in hand) in my need to be heard. In an effort to make myself understood, I became more physically animated, and used my facial expressions much more – so much that got jaw ache, and I wasn’t even talking!

“Normally, when friends want to have personal conversations I would express a lot with my voice, perhaps in comfort or empathy, but I found that gestures and writing wasn’t enough to express those feelings as I wanted to.

“To my surprise, other people’s behaviour also changed. In general there was a lot more eye contact. And if I started writing on my pad to communicate, sometimes the others wanted to write back to me on the pad too. I found it really nice that they changed their behaviour to meet mine.”

What was it like to speak again afterwards?

“When I was allowed to speak again I got very emotional. Had a speech in my head, but it got lost. I felt like I’d been imprisoned like in my own head for 12 hours – it’s a scary place. We really take it for granted being able to express ourselves, and this helped me realise what it feels like to be without that ability, even for just 12 hours.”

Thank you so much Mary-Lou, for supporting Guideposts. We really appreciate all you have done for us!

Is there a personal challenge that you would like to take?

Challenges come in all shapes and sizes. It could be a test of your self-control, will-power, endurance, or to take yourself out of your comfort-zone and into someone else’s shoes.

Whatever it is, give it a go!  If you could raise some money for Guideposts at the same time, we would be delighted, and we will do our best to keep you on track.   

Contact Tania on with your ideas, whatever they might be!

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