There are few things in life that can't wait till tomorrow. Don't react immediately to a problem, sleep on it
I was very stressed out over something the other day. Much more stressed than I normally allow myself to get. There came a point, towards the end of a remarkably trying day that I conclusively felt that something I'd been working hard to achieve, was, in fact, quite worthless.
It's in that state of mind that I walked into Pappu Singh's dhaba.
As any of you who's been following this column knows, Pappu Singh is great at giving practical gyan. But surprisingly on that day, as I vented and vented about how unreasonable the situation I found myself in was, Pappu Singh silently kept doing his work without uttering a word. When I finally got ready to pay for my food and leave, he said, `Sir, one advice. Don't talk about your problems, just go home and sleep.'
I gave him a fake smile and left.
After all, how could I have expected someone like him, whose life involved frying pakoras the whole day, to understand the complexities of professional life. Of course he wouldn't know how we've always been taught that talking about a problem really helps in offloading the burden and making one feel lighter inside. Or so I thought.
When I got back home, I found a couple of friends waiting for me. One of them, a filmmaker, had been having a lot of trouble managing his crew and dealing with the tantrums of his producer. Thus began a whole new session of venting... all over again. By the end of `sharing' my troubles and listening to those of the others, over and over, I realised I was not feeling any lighter. On the contrary, it felt at that moment as if everything was wrong in our universe. The evening ended with us heaving a a collective sigh of grief for our respective troubles, and my friend saying, `let's not talk about these things anymore, we should just go home and sleep.'
The words sounded familiar.
That's exactly what Pappu Singh had said, but two hours and ten thousands expressions of stress earlier.
The point of narrating all this is simple. I, like you, have always believed that talking about our problems is healthy as it does not let negativity accumulate inside you. But sometimes, in fact many a times, repeatedly talking about things that are going wrong, especially with people who can't really do anything to help ease matters, only adds to the stress.
Another things that aggravates the feeling of stress, bigtime, is our tendency to look for immediate resolution of our problems.
We are hurt, we want to retort or take some action... right there and then. But does reacting to a negative situation at a time when stress has already overcome your ability to think rationally, help? No, it does not.
If you think carefully, you'll realise that most reactions and decisions taken in the heat of the moment, when you are anyway in an upset frame of mind, make you feel `not quite right', later.
The calmness trick?
Do what Pappu Singh said, stop talking about it, just go off to sleep. I can almost guarantee that if you are able to put the break of a peaceful night's sleep between your chain of thoughts, chances are, you'll awaken to a brighter and positive outlook in the morning, much better than how you felt in tense state of mind the evening before.
A lot of my friends who are married or in a relationship take pride in saying that they `never sleep on a fight.' `Whatever the fight or argument is about, I insist that we stay up and resolve, before we hit the bed,' says a friend. I'm not quite sure if that works for everyone. Most couples fight over matters that arise due to inherent differences in their personalities. Accepting those differences and going off to sleep quietly at the time when no solution is likely to come out of constant bickering, is also not a bad idea. The morning may bring renewed energy to understand your partner's point or situation. Nothing good comes out of flogging a tired mind anyway.
When it comes to taking important decisions in life, time and subconscious are important tools that we mostly ignore, while they are great healers and problem solvers.
Make it a rule in life -when it's late, and you are tired, confused and stressed, don't talk.
Simply go to bed. If a decision can wait till tomorrow, sleeping on it works like magic. Try it.