Many times we believe talking solves the problem. You have therapists, friends and mentors encouraging you to talk about it. They go – “you need to talk about these things, talking helps; it’s therapeutic.” While I do not dispute this fact, I believe there are a million and one cases when talking only compounds the issue.
For instance, you experience a meltdown; in a crazy world like Lagos where everyone has to be aggressive to survive—your Landlord won’t let you be now that your rent is due, the bus conductor stalls on giving you your N450 change (maybe hoping you would forget or he just enjoys the fact that you have to tap him every 30 seconds to remind him), you raise your voice and he finally gets the message, extends your money to you and tells you in a cold voice to fȃrabalȅ. A hurrying passenger who unintentionally steps on you with a viciousness that smears the shine on your shoe.
These incidents define Lagos and in many cases, you have to meet aggression with aggression. You get to work after this ordeal and pressure starts to mount.Your boss needs a document like yesterday! A colleague is asking if you responded to an email, everyone is saying something to you at the same time. When these turn of events occur, you experience a meltdown, you really can’t describe what or how you are feeling or you just need to sob a bit or scream or pace for about two minutes (give or take) in order to arrive at a make-peace-with-the-situation point. At this moment, talking does not help. If you talk, you may sound angry and bitter and maybe draw attention to yourself. Don’t talk. Just inhale deeply and slowly… slowly exhale. There…you can now deal.
Many people are quick to have deep thoughts. I can be that way. I start to project into the future. One of the talks on speed dial in my mind is a chain of ‘what ifs”. IThe me-to-me conversation goes a little like this: I planned to run my MBA programme this year, it’s the second half of the year and I haven’t figured out which school, not to mention applying. What if I don’t do MBA this year? What if I get married next year, then I can’t do MBA again. What if B.Sc is my highest certificate? What if I can’t get another job? What if I don’t earn more than I am earning now? What if I can’t afford an Ivy League school for my kids? Then they will have to go to a government school and they will learn to speak bad English. After the what if train of thoughts, I start to feel terrible and I sometimes allow myself wallow in it.
There are all kinds of ways to silence the chain of what ifs before they lead to panic and self-loathing. You can meditate. You can blast your favourite song and dance till your legs start to wiggle on their own. You can read a book. Or you can choose to see the brighter side of life; because what comes before and after what-ifs is not up to fate, but up to your decisions and the actions you take—not your words.
We all spot problems at work, at home, in our community and groups. Every now and then, we feel the need to stand up and list the malfunctions. Once, I stood up in my NYSC CDS group and listed the problems militating against the unit including how we were not being good ambassadors of the group, how our program on radio needed to be more focused and consistent. Granted, I just joined the group and I thought I could put in my best—but did I have the energy to rally about 100 team members 3 days a week? Did I have the money to make up for the budgetary differences-or the connections to raise cash? Was I ready to put in 9 hours a week to revamping the attitudes of team members? The long answer was; I had a 9-5 PPA job, I was running a professional course, I was earning N27000 (Allowee inclusive). The short answer was (and is); do not start what you can’t follow through. Do not flap your jaw about hitches to a system that you can’t put the effort into solving. The group I criticized will forget my critical-and hypocritical-lecture after a while.
Talking really isn’t necessary sometimes.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Robert Kneschke