Offbeat Advice

A Short Answer and A Sympathetic Ear

I recently formulated some New Year’s resolutions. (Yes, this calendar year of 2019 has been challenging and a bit of a bust regarding changes I planned on making, so I am starting a new year on August 1st.) One resolution I made was to post to this blog regularly — a short post on Monday, a longer one to be posted on Thursday or Friday. In keeping with that resolution, here is my short begin-the-week post.

Life comes with problems. Some problems you may bring upon yourself, some may come upon you out of nowhere, some can be solved, some stick around the rest of your life. It is just the way it is. (See John 16:33.)

Sometimes, talking about your problems can help you deal with them better. Since you and your pals and your neighbor and the bartender all have problems too, they can relate to whatever is bugging you or at least understand why it is bugging you. So when someone asks, “Hey, how’s it going?” you talk about your lousy job or your troubled child or your bad knee or whatever ails you. It feels good to get this weight off your chest. You feel less angry, less overwhelmed, and hey! the listener might even have a helpful piece of advice. And folks just want to help one another, right?

A word of caution: Not everyone wants to hear all your problems. Or at least not every time they see you. And while it is a given that in this world you will have trials and tribulation, your troubles don’t need to be the focus of all your conversations.

If you want to live your life with some modicum of class, find a short answer to “Is everything alright?” You don’t need to say “Oh, couldn’t be better!” but you don’t need to give a detailed account of your bankruptcy either. Then find a sympathetic ear (therapist, counselor, and also prayer) to listen to your woes or find another way (journal, online board, etc. ) to let it all hang out.

Spilling your guts should not be an integral part of your daily interactions.