For reasons of no particular importance, I’ve been going through a hard time in the last 3 or 4 weeks.
There is nothing in the external world that has made me unhappy. I have shelter. I have work. I have food. I have family. I have friends. I have health. I have prospects.
All the unhappiness has been self-inflicted by obsessive thinking over a decision in my life that I need to make. The thought clouds have dominated my mind, and it’s been exhausting.
I tried to find a way out of unhappiness by just focusing on my teaching. That didn’t work. I tried to find a way out by meditating, practising gratitude, writing reflections. As much as as I believe in those things, they didn’t work either.
After weeks of suffering I picked up the phone, called two friends, and within 30 minutes my dreadful mood duly f****d off.
I don’t know if it’s a particularly British thing. Or if it’s predominantly a male thing but we need to be less shy about showing weakness.
We might not be shy about calling up a friend to ask for advice for a particular problem. But we might be less inclined to call up a friend and say something as open ended as:
“I’m feeling really sad. Can I talk to you about it?”
And I think the best thing we can do to feel more comfortable with this is to put ourselves in the other persons shoes. If a close friend were to call you up and say this, wouldn’t you be glad they had done so, rather than suffering in silence?
Talking really is healing. Don’t try and work all out on your own. If you try your mind will likely have itself a field day whilst you will get nowhere.
I’m talking predominantly here about the value of talking - actual human talking - versus the outlets of text and email.
So much misunderstanding can be caused by trying to communicate things through these mediums. Modern technology has replaced our body and voices with keyboards and screens.
Psychologists have varying opinions on the percentage of communication that is verbal, but it’s supposed to be low.
Firstly given the nature of text and email, you have to be succinct. You can’t say everything you want to say. Anything longer than a few lines looks like an essay.
And secondly we lose tone of voice and body language - vital aspects of communication.
We then make assumptions as to someone’s feelings and sentiments based on these limited pieces of information, and misunderstandings and conflicts ensue.
We can make a comparison with music. Music in its written form can only communicate so much. It takes a skilled performer to really express the composers vision.
I think that in matters beyond admin - and I mean admin in the broadest sense (e.g. “Will be home in 5 minutes”) we should try as much as possible to discuss things over the phone, or ideally, in person.
I think the predominant cause for so many conflicts large and small is misunderstanding.
Good communication leads to good understanding. Good understanding leads to good relationships.
So we need to open our mouths and talk; open ourselves up to other people, and let them open themselves up to us. I think that this way we can find greater peace within ourselves and with the people around us.