Ever notice when you are down, people ask you to talk about it? They urge you to get it off your chest, they claim, will give you immense relief. I, however, think there are some things best left unsaid, for talking about them gives them the power of existence.
I once had a terrible boss. She was manipulative, consistently lied and worse, bad at her job. For three months, I didn’t tell anybody and tried to work out a system where she wouldn’t get under my skin and I could handle my end of the work efficiently. When I finally cracked how to do it, an ex-colleague-friend came visiting and I poured out my woes to her.
From the next day, I found work unbearable. She had told me to not to take this kind of behaviour and I didn’t. Mails were sent and cc'd to those perched highest on the ladder. The fallout was that a war was declared, my boss and I swore we couldn’t work with each other. I moved out of the team and left the company soon after. To date, I can’t help but wonder if I had kept quiet, would I have been on a different path?
It’s a thin line to walk. How much cribbing is valid? If you don’t say anything at all, you may be treated like the proverbial doormat. If you say too much, the ‘making a mountain out of a molehill’ cliché falls into place.
I had an acquaintance who would complain all the time about her mother-in-law. Every single conversation was peppered with what the lady did and didn’t. I would meet her occasionally for I felt she needed the talk-therapy. Then, one day, out of the blue she stopped mentioning the woman. When I probed gently, she said, ‘What is there to talk about?’ I almost felt like thumping her on her back, ‘Yes, what is there?’ From then on, every time we met, we had the most lovely time speaking about things that turn passing associations into close friends.
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As I get older, I have learnt if I hold my grouse quiet within me, it disappears. Especially when it comes to services. If the delivery man comes three hours late instead of yelling at him, if I take the goods and put it away I don’t even notice the inconvenience he has caused. Or in a traffic jam, if I let my thoughts wander away from the honking into a holiday I had, the jam dissolves.
It’s almost like a formula. Annoyance expressed stretches time and frustration, while an irritation ignored shrinks the inconvenience. Try it. The next time something is bugging you, don’t talk about it. The silence may just kill the bug.
'Still Figuring It Out’ a funny, sad, questioning take on adulthood will appear every Saturday on Asianet Newsable. Arathi Menon is the author of Leaving Home With Half a Fridge, a memoir published by Pan Macmillan. She tweets at here. The views expressed here are her own.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:46 PM IST