Contemplating in Cairo – Vol. 19

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Sharing thoughts, feelings and ideas is one of the attributes that make us human. By nature, we are not a species that enjoys solitude, at least not often. We feel better when we speak our minds and ease our burdens by talking to loved ones or people we trust about our fears and our problems. 

Generally, this rule "works". Sharing does make us feel better. It opens our perspectives to solutions that would, otherwise, be clogged in our minds. When we talk about our problems with people we trust, the channels of thought in our mind somehow un-clutter and alternatives become evident to us as options we can actually pursue.

In some cases, though, it is better to just shut up…

Applying one rule through all common situations we go through is not necessarily an encouraged course of action with our species. Because we are complex beings and because situations and circumstances vary drastically from one scenario to another, such an option is highly unlikely to "work" every time. If things were that easy, we would come with a manual of instructions that would say something like: when subject feels frustrated, expose to sunlight until it turns red then place in a soundproof room for an hour and let subject scream until it falls unconscious. 

Though we are constantly trying to "write" a manual for ourselves where we can have clear instructions to follow in different situations, we simply cannot confine ourselves into such "simplicity". Psychology, medicine, human behaviour and many other sciences have been trying for centuries to define in simple terms and rules how the human mind works and how it should react in specific situations. Though many of these rules deem applicable, they are not applicable all the time. Because we are a complex species, a manual of this sort will never be completed.

Building on that ideology, talking about our problems does not necessarily make things better…

There are many times when all we really want is to be left alone. We feel the need to engross ourselves into our thoughts and feelings without outside interference, meddling or interruption. We don't want to "talk about it" or "think aloud". We just need to sink into our misery and actually feel it. 

This situation resembles one where you start crying and someone tells you to stop. No, I don't want to stop. I want to keep on crying. I want to let it out. I want to indulge in this misery until I hit rock-bottom. Only then will I be able to stand up and try looking at the situation from a different perspective. Only then will I reach a stage of "acceptance" from where I can proceed to a stage of "dealing with" the problem.

In no way am I suggesting that lingering on depression or sadness is encouraged behaviour but, in some situations, that is exactly what we need to do. Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away. Talking about it helps of course, most of the time, but it can also be distracting. 

What if distraction is not what you need right now? What if "dealing with the situation" actually means drowning in it until you fully comprehend its boundaries? Sharing is definitely a healthy "stage" to go through but what if you are not ready to share just yet?

Many of us choose not to dwell in our sorrows. We look for people and methods that will "get our minds off things" in an attempt to numb the feelings we are so vividly experiencing. Doesn't that leave us with a lot of "unfinished business" in our lives? Doesn't that leave us with baggage? Because we deprive ourselves of letting our emotions take their normal course, we do not fully develop beyond them. We are left with a feeling of dissatisfaction that leads to a feeling of loss. The problem seems "kind of familiar" but it is not fully comprehended because we didn't give ourselves the chance to "digest" it.

Again, I am in no way recommending that we drown in our sorrows. We are just becoming too busy and eager looking for a quick fix than actually dealing with our troubles. "Dealing with our troubles" means that we first need to fully comprehend what the dimensions of our problems are. Talking about them prematurely only forces other people's opinions and experiences to formulate as our own. Perhaps those opinions are our own, but reaching that conclusion has to be done by self, not by tricking our minds into believing them because they made sense when we heard them.

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. By not giving ourselves the chance to dwell on our feelings and thus fully comprehend what they are all about, we are trying to get from stage one to stage five without passing through the three in the middle. Aren't we depriving ourselves of the experience then? Aren't we just accepting the bad things that happen without trying to understand the wisdom behind them or look for a way by which we can become stronger beings?

Talking about our troubles definitely helps but, they are still our troubles. No matter how sympathetic the person you are talking to is, they will never comprehend or feel the situation as well as you do. That is precisely why you need to have a conversation with yourself about your problem before you can have a healthy conversation about it with someone else

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