Have you ever caught yourself talking out loud?
Have you ever caught yourself going through a morning, a day or even a week endlessly observing, pointing out and providing a running commentary of EVERYTHING that is wrong?
This is a fictional example,
I wake up and yawn and stretch and notice and say, “Owe! I have a crick in my back, I must have slept wrong.”
Step out of bed and stub my toe on my shoe, “Crap! I left my shoe in the wrong place.”
Walk into the bathroom, “My tooth brush isn’t on my charger!” (first world problem)
Head to boil water for tea and realize and say, “Oops, I forgot to by more tea at the store last night”
Sit down to eat, and realize your food is already cold, “Gotta warm up this food in the microwave and now my pancakes have soaked up all the maple syrup and taste dry.”
yada yada yada
Go to work, point out things that need fixing.
Come home, talk about the things that were wrong at work.
Talk about the things that need fixing at home.
Talk about the problems with a show you are watching that night or a book you are reading.
Talk about aches and pains you are feeling.
These are all truths potentially.
These might even be OUR truths.
They might be truths that need to be fixed by others, and we may have just observed and talked about them.
But looking back over the course of the day, all those ‘problems’ and all that running commentary about the problems, what can we notice now?
Individually, any single item might have needed to be witnessed and addressed by someone.
Did we need to speak each of these out loud?
Looking at them in total, Did we need to speak ALL of them out loud.
How do you feel when we give voice to these Problems?
When we say all of these things, and I do mean ALL, how does that make us feel. Do we feel better for saying them out loud?
Do we cement the problem into our reality by giving voice to a problem?
Are these problems even a priority in our life?
So I stubbed my toe on a shoe when I first woke up. Big deal, it’s not a life changing problem. Sure I might be a little more mindful about where I put my shoe after I take it off before bed, next time. But do I need to announce to myself, those around me and the universe the problem?
There is no right answer. Maybe the toe stubbing was severe and we can’t help but yelp. Maybe it was minor and a distraction. Maybe in that moment when we chose by conscious will or by unconscious and mindless habit, maybe then we lose track of that REALLY important thing we were supposed to be focused on?
Inviting a Response from those Around Us
Consider for a moment the impact of these words on the people in our lives? Our loved ones, our family, our partners, our coworkers, our friends.
As they witness our running commentary of EVERYTHING that is wrong in our world, do they want to help? Do they try to help?
Do they want to turn their head down and avoid us or avoid adding to our problems?
Do they bottle up the challenge they previously thought they needed to share with us until they ran into our hurricane force wind of verbal problems.
Do they create a new habit where they stop sharing the little problems to spare us or to spare themselves the repercussions or the amplification of giving a megaphone to one more problem?
Do our problems seem to fall on deaf ears?
Do the conversations that pop up around our commentary help our relationships or do they hurt them? Are these the important things we really want to discuss at all?
Are these the important things that we want to discuss with the people that happen to hear them?
When we launch into our running commentary of problems and share something a challenge in our personal life with a coworker, business partner or even a client, does this help our professional relationship? Maybe it does, maybe this helps create a bond with an experience that everyone has.
Maybe it uses up valuable time talking about a topic that cannot be dealt with by the professionals around us, time that could have been spent dealing with actual challenges in our professional lives.
When we go home, we have these unresolved professional challenges that were not dealt with at work, and we share them with the people in our personal life because the thing is eating at us or because it flared up in an email, voice mail, phone call or something after we got home, where it can’t be dealt with by anyone.
Now this professional problem distracts us from dealing with the personal challenges we shared earlier and the cycle gets worse, it amplifies and repeats itself everyday.
When to unload and let go out loud, and when to trust that it will be dealt with in due course
If we can practice reversing our habit to allow our verbal commentary of every challenge we might find the space to pick and choose the items that are a priority.
We might spare those around us from hearing the challenges that do not pertain to them or are not really a priority for anyone.
We can trust they will get resolved eventually. We can trust that they do not really even need to be dealt with.
Sometimes, Doing Nothing is the right answer
We can let go of these challenges easier because we have not given voice to every single thing.
We can reduce our anxiety by not empowering every challenge and making it ‘a thing.’
We can deal and cope with the challenges that we deem to be actually important and we can get help or assistance from the right people, responsible and accountable for these problems instead of offloading them on the wrong people.
We can ask to be Given Space but…
Whether we are given space personally or professionally, we might not choose to expect space for EVERYTHING. We might not choose to expect those in our personal lives to ALWAYS give us space for professional issues and vice versa for those in our professional lives to ALWAYS give us space for personal issues.
In my personal experience, it seems more taboo to share or ‘hear’ personal issues at work. It does happen and that’s OK. But there is more of a taboo there.
I feel that the taboo against ‘bringing work home’ has decreased.
There are many reasons for this that I’m not going to delve into, yet this change, it can be the snowball that creates an avalanche that spreads through our lives, creating that cycle mentioned above, until life cascades out of control.
So today, and going forward, I’m going to be more mindful in my practice about my own running commentary, when to give voice and when to just let the thought run through my head and out my ear, not my mouth.
Over time, I’m hopeful that the cascade will melt away and I’ll be able to better address any actual boulders or rocks underneath the former avalanche.