Do You Think When Not Talking?

I often get annoyed hearing the same thing from someone multiple times. At the surface it’s because it implies that talking to me means nothing other than uploading your thoughts to a listener and it doesn’t matter enough to remember that you already uploaded this to me.

On the deeper level though I worry when someone hasn’t moved the chains on a problem in the time since we talked.

As someone who’s mind is always trying to mull a dozen things at once I find it strange to hear someone express distress about an idea or an encounter and give me all the information about it, then two weeks later give me all that information again, basically word for word and with the exact same emphasis.

I guess we all need to talk out our problems and I’m just good at talking to myself.

Because as you’re thinking now – I do have a blog after all. And it delightfully fills the best parts of talking to myself with a lot of the benefits of talking to someone else except I can’t be interrupted with someone else’s misconceptions or premature advice.

There was a day at the pub when a friend called me out on something I knew he would and I said excitedly we’ve had this conversation in my head already so I’ll just fill you in.¬†Which brought the uproarious laughter of all assembled. And later everyone told me they do it too. In the shower and on the way to bus stops we all live out our half of unfinished arguments, the question is if one is doing it to reinforce feelings of superiority or truly engaging with the brain’s gift for finding points of view that make us feel like shit.

I’ve focused for years and I still actively focus on being a good listener and it feels like a theft of my time of time when people aren’t being good communicators or worse aren’t communicating in good faith.

Because of course people do need to talk things out. Without being bombarded with solutions as if the purpose of listening to someone is to get the listening over with. People first need to have their problem recognized as a problem before they’ll hear a solution. Usually the first thing a person is looking for when they’re complaining is subtle recognition that it’s okay to feel a little self pity, that someone else sees the situation as negative. If you jump in with a solution too soon it implies the person shouldn’t feel bad, should already be over it, and it makes them defensive.

What I don’t understand is when someone hasn’t moved their thoughts and feelings on an issue at all, as if the short term feeling of venting is enough and they don’t have the motivation to explore a solution to the feeling that makes them want to vent in the first place. I see so many people reliving uncomfortable stories over and over again, getting worked up, ranting, saying things they should have said without ever acknowledging what they should have learned.

Maybe it’s a desire to win, to not back off from a power struggle. Rather than admitting a situation was simply stupid (and therefore one was stupid for being it it) people are seeking validation of their position – of their identity – to a sympathetic audience as a way to shore up their mental reservoir of certainty that their feelings are always rational.

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Singer/songwriter, jerk.

Posted in Pragmatism
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