Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Other people's problems are easier to solve than your own

I was chatting to someone close to me today - having a catch up of news and recent happenings.

He has a bunch of challenges in his life and he can't get past any of them.

From my perspective, the solutions are really, really easy. 

This ties in with a comment I made to a psychologist friend over the weekend. She works in the public system. Our psychiatrist friend was saying how she couldn't handle listening to people's problems and issues all day, which the psychologist has to do. I asked the psychologist whether she found it frustrating to listen to people's issues, which are big to the person but probably quite trivial and easily dealt with in the big picture. Their solutions are probably simple and clear - if they'll just make those changes. When you're in the trees you can't see the wood.

Then, I think of things that were of big concern to me seven years ago and how I'd eat those concerns as an hors d'oeuvres now, with barely a burp.

This someone... he is in a live-in relationship with someone half his age from a different cultural group. The relationship has its challenges. He isn't working and doesn't need to work because he has a regular income. He has too much stuff, accumulated over decades, and is drowning in it. Making a house move is terrifying for him because he can't face dealing with his belongings, which he doesn't like to let go of. 

He said to me that he can't travel because he doesn't want to leave his house in the hands of his partner if he is away. 

I asked him whether he heard himself say that sentence and that, if I said to him, "I can't come visit because I don't want to leave my partner alone in my home because I don't trust what will happen there while I'm away", he would tell me to get the hell out of the relationship. Any good friend would say the same.

From my perspective, he has money and no fixed responsibilities so he has the freedom to do whatever he wants. 

To me, the solutions to his problems are easy. Sell the house, put items you really want in a storage garage and get a truck from an auction place to clear the rest out. Selling the house also helps to solve the 'complicated domestic relationship' issue. Go travel from the west coast of South Africa to the east coast and live life.

He has had a challenging few years with lots of stress and some illness. I'd like to see him travelling around the country, visiting places and enjoying experiences - while he has good health and mobility to do so.

But, he won't. 

His mind has created a cage and he is locked inside. No amount of prodding from me will get him to unlock the gate. He has to wake up one morning and decide to do so himself. Time isn't kind and if he leaves it too long it will be too late for him to do all the fun things he should have started to do years ago already. 

The stresses and challenges that I'm dealing with at work also have an easy solution. I see it but I'm not quite ready to take the step. I often think about this, wondering at the cages I may have created. How much is real and how much is perceived?

In an online interview I watched a few days ago, a question from viewer had something to do with making changes when you're older and these changes having more significant consequences because you're older - often without a safety net.

It is easier to clean out someone else's garage because it is free from history, sentiments and emotions. In the same way, it is easier to solve other people's problems rather than your own.

It is useful then to be able to put yourself in the role of your own friend and to ask, "What would I say to a friend in my position?". Then, you just need the courage to take your own advice.

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