My neighbour has always been using me as a convenient peg to hang all his problems. Not a day passed without him approaching me to discuss some of his concerns. He would say “My wife and my mother are not getting on well, as you know. It is always petty things like what meal to cook,, when my wife will take mom to her cousin’s house or when she will find the time to mend her new sari that was torn by the maid. My wife has no patience stressed as she is in the mornings. What could be tackled smoothly turns into exchange of words, bitter fight, and inevitable crying. Tell me, Partha, what should I do?”
Rather than curtly saying that this is a matter best resolved by the concerned within his house, I give a patient hearing to his woes. He would then tell me that it was getting late for his office and that I should meanwhile think of a solution. Having shifted his burden on me he would go his way light in heart. I try to catch up the 45 minutes lost of my precious morning and get stressed doing things hurriedly. I have no time for answering my wife patiently on an urgent issue that had cropped up. She would get upset very rightly as I rush to the office without listening to her. It was all because of my foolishness in trying to solve somebody’s problem.
The moment neighbour’s wife and his mother come to know of my participation in their tussle, they too make a demand on my time in the evening. My wife is resentful that I get time to give a patient ear to others and not to her. This manifests itself in ever so many disconcerting ways that a wife alone can do.
The moral is that we need not always be ready to listen to others troubles simply for the reason they come to you. If we refuse politely and tactfully to take their difficulties on our shoulders, they would go to someone else who is willing. When we are short of time in the mornings we do not have to answer every sales man who rings the bell or answer the phone without seeing the caller ID or respond to an invitation for a chat while at computer. By answering the phone or responding to chat, we become willing victims especially when we are pressed for time. Undue politeness is no virtue. It is also not a sign of rudeness for us to say we are busy when we are really so.
There would always be others problems thrown at us all the time if we are suckers. Passing problems to others is a staple of human nature. Once we understand this trait we can make our relations with others easier. We can make sure that they don't pass on their problems to us without our permission. The trouble is that we tend to think high of ourselves if someone approaches us for help with a problem. It flatters us and satisfies our ego making us swallow the dangling bait. In most cases we are tricked into issues totally unrelated to us. Saying a polite no without hurting others sentiments is no incivility but a key to stress-free life. .In genuine cases one should go all out to be helpful even if personally inconvenient. The advice to ward off all kinds of problems tossed towards us by others in home or office is no prescription for becoming insular, getting disinterested in others or being discourteous but to choose the problems thrown at us wisely on their merits and relevance. If we develop this ability, we may find that we are able to remain cool and relaxed, enjoying our life with family undisturbed by habitual problem throwers.