Why Do We Feel the Need to Fill Empty Spaces?

Learn to embrace the space…

Trisha Dunbar (She/Her)


Photo by Steven Ungermann on Unsplash

Now I don’t know about you, but in general, I don’t understand us, humans. On one hand, we seem to crave space, but on the other hand, we have this insatiable urge to fill space with ‘stuff.

The question is why? Why do we have such an urge to fill our spaces? It doesn’t just seem to be an individual thing either. As groups, we like to fill spaces too.

Take my local council, for example. We need more roads to ease congestion so the farmer sold off some land and they are building a new road. However, they are not content with just leaving the surrounding green space, green.

They decided this space could fit about a thousand affordable shoe boxed sized homes. Now, this kind of defeats the point doesn’t it? This extra road is being created due to the fact we filled all our spaces with overpopulation.

The Normalising of Space-Filling

I am also a perfect example of our human need to fill space. I fill my physical spaces with books and furniture. Recently I found some space on a wall and do you know what I did? I bought a picture frame to fill it as it looked too empty.

Now it isn’t just physical space we need to fill. How often have you been in a conversation where there has been an awkward pause? What do you feel the need to do? Fill it of course — you speak until there are no spaces left.

Over time the need to fill space has been normalised. Society has taught us to believe that empty spaces look sad and lonely. However, the old wise ancient ones such as the teachings of the Buddha and Stoic philosophy remind us of the importance of sitting mindfully in silence. We don’t need ‘stuff’ to be who we truly are.

Isn’t it ironic that we then crave space and rush to fill it with stuff? What’s behind this urge to fill our spaces? Why can’t we leave a space a space?

The Problem with Our Spaces

The problem with physical space is once we fill it we crave more space and it turns into an almost endless cycle of consumerism. We like to fill our physical spaces with furniture, items, and if you are like me, books.



Trisha Dunbar (She/Her)

🧠 Lessons on Psychology, Philosophy & Neurodiversity, ✍ A Dyslexic Top Writer | Reading for Growth | Writing for Self-Expression 🦣@trishadunbar@me.dm