I confided in a stranger
…and it felt nice. You can too!
Have you ever had one of those days when you feel extremely low-spirited? When it takes a tonne of effort to do something. When you stare at a computer or a phone screen for minutes without moving a muscle. The times you stare into nothingness until you come to and realize that you have been day-dreaming for a significant amount of time? I believe everyone has one of those.
A few months back, I had a memorable one of my own. It had been a long-ass day in the office. When I finalized the day’s work, I did not have the energy to get up, shut my laptop, and head home. Truthfully, I wanted to lock myself from the outside world. I had some deeply troubling thoughts that needed total Isolation to grasp.
Slowly, everyone left the office. All this time, I was scrolling my Facebook timeline, checking my favorite blogger’s website, going through all my emails, and exhausting the piled-up WhatsApp messages, but nothing piqued my interest. I was just a body, and the only active operational thing was the brain with a platoon of thoughts that ran wildly in it.
I bet they were having the time of their life as they held the rest of my frame hostage and roamed every curve of my head.
I took a stroll to the washrooms. On my way back, I met with this guy that shared office space on the same floor. He greeted me cordially and engaged me in some small talk. Before long, we were discussing some common topics and interests. He seemed likable and even in my foul mood, I could not dismiss him.
Before this interaction, we would only exchange monosyllabic greetings and nods when we bumped into each other along the corridors. This time, it was different. I needed someone to talk to and he couldn’t have been working late at a better day or time.
It started with the weather, politics, sports, mindfulness, meditation, addiction, and similar topics. The discussions and varied ideas we were exchanging were just mind-blowing. We had to take it to the restaurant upstairs — over some drinks of course. I saw this opportunity as the highway to outrun my disconcerting thoughts but it eventually turned out way better than expected.
About 30 minutes later, the conversation shifted towards personal issues. We shared all the problems that each had. We took turns to rant.
The fun of it was that none of us gave a solution. For instance, I would lay out an issue I was having and this stranger would be like, “Let’s drink to that because I am sure that after tonight, you will find the best available solution to the predicament,” and then out glasses would clink. Truthfully, that was all I needed; an ear to listen and some words of affirmation.
Four hours later, we parted when his Uber driver called and I headed to the basement parking. On my way home I felt lighter. I had a clear perspective of the issues and their solutions following a discussion we had on the same.
While he was a stranger, he listened to my problems and gently told me what he thought about them. Interestingly, he also had problems that I helped dissect. It was a mutually beneficial conversation as we equally shed our baggage through sharing.
We all need Someone to Lend us an Ear
The good thing with being a human is that we were as made co-creators by the Most High. He gave us a world that was un-developed. We can pride ourselves on what we have achieved so far. For example, moving from rubbing sticks together to make a fire to using laser lighters is no mean feat. With that said, the solution to our problems is usually lurking somewhere behind the shadows. We just need a slight nudge towards it and Voila!
Therefore, at times, we do not need answers to our problems. We just need someone to listen to and help us get closer to the solutions by just picking our minds on the possibilities that are within our reach.
Why is it Difficult to Share our Problems?
In modern technological times, everyone seems to have trust issues. You confide in someone and find the information on a social media platform in a jiffy. We simply do not know how people will use the information we give them in the name of opening up to them.
Sometimes, it is not the person you shared with that leaks your secrets or problems. Say it’s a man who has a spouse whom he blurts out the secret to during those thoughtless cuddling moments. The lover then tells it to her girlfriends during a tea party. One of these friends may be responsible for leaking the secret to the internet fraternity.
Of course, we have some trustworthy family members and friends but the vetting criteria for loyalty is so strenuous that we end up keeping our problems to ourselves, which brings us to harm’s way especially with the many mental conditions that are precipitated by overthinking and incubating the issues in our heads.
We have always confided in strangers
Yeah, that’s true. We, humans, trust strangers more than the regular folk. The concept of psychological assistance through counseling or support groups is technically based on telling strangers our secrets, failures, inadequacies, messes, and psychotic episodes. It is, basically tearing ourselves up in the hope than the strangers will help us steer back to normalcy and sanity.
The good thing with strangers is that they do not judge. They do not have a past to which they anchor their responses and reactions. They just sit there and nod, interject for clarity, and nod a bit more. They listen to us when we need a non-partisan ear.
In an AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) setting, one of the most effective non-professional atmospheres to get out of alcohol addiction, anonymity is a fundamental tradition. It is the 12th and final tenet of participating in AA programs. The rationale for this rule is to ensure that the intervention concentrates on the principles of overcoming addiction and not the various personalities involved in the process.
Similarly, we should employ this tactic to solve our deeply troubling problems. The act of conversing with a stranger on their perspectives on an issue you are experiencing will most definitely yield better results than when you are having the conversation with someone close since there is no holding back. It may not apply in all situations but with a less-known person, you limit the possibility of holding anything back.
Thus, you get all the necessary assistance you need to handle the situation mano a mano.