Sometimes even a seemingly minor issue in life can appear like a crisis. Obviously am speaking from my own point of view. I know for a fact that one person’s crisis can be another person’s …er….amusement. Naturally, we all have our own definitions for a crisis. For example, if the milkman came ten minutes late in the morning and there is no milk in the fridge, it is a crisis for 90% of the families that send children off to school and family members off to work. In this situation, I am part of the happy 10% that stocks milk so I don’t depend on the milkman. +1 for me there.
On the other hand, not having cash in my purse is a big crisis for me, even though I jolly well know that I could probably pay by credit card, or better still, not buy the thing at all. But what if I didn’t have my credit card and had to put petrol in my fuel tank? Crisis. No – I could park the bike, take an auto-rickshaw, go home/to the ATM, get cash, buy petrol and ride off into the sunset.
For one of my closest friends, no vegetables in the fridge = crisis.
Another friend is way too worried about what might happen a decade later (like there are no issues right now)
For my aunt, not getting through on the phone with me is pure crisis.
For Vidur, forgetting his homework at home on a school day spells crisis.
And for most of the kids I know (and their parents) not getting to the loo on time is a 100% crisis situation!
Vidur and I often argue over the to-do list – and it is quite funny. Whenever I come up with an objection, he makes it sound trivial and solvable and actually offers a solution – and when he has a problem, I do the same. In fact, I only recently realized that we have gotten into the habit of doing that. We automatically make an effort to make each other feel better, and Sury is the same in this situation. My Mom also did that a lot. We averted crisis situations naturally.
My T chart
Of late, I’ve been feeling a bit panicky over various things related to home, work, school – even knowing that I really did not need to get worked up. I got totally stressed out over my ever-growing (too much) to do list. That’s when I remembered an old habit – my favorite T-chart of life’s debits and credits. It is a simple exercise I often took up when I felt overwhelmed. Maybe you would like to try it too.
I take a sheet of paper, and divide it into two vertical halves. The left side column is titled debit and the right side is credit. I then list my currently nagging problems on the left side and all my happiness factors on the right side. Believe me, not even once has the debit outweighed the credit! When we get right down to it, it is quite easy to identify all those happy things that take us through our day.
This T chart can also be used to write a problem on the left and possible solutions to it on the right. Seeing any issue, positive or negative, in writing gives it a whole new perspective. I learned this long ago from my Mom, and it has proved to be a major source of strength for me. But then she was the sort who believed that if I could identify a problem, I should also be able to think through to a solution.
Sometimes, all we need is that extra push to extend our thinking. In any case, there’s more energy lost sulking and wallowing in self-pity than in putting the effort to make the situation better.
Point is, we can avoid most crisis situations in life through a little preparation. A little planning ahead. Now:
- Why on earth should I even run out of petrol unless my bike’s fuel tank had a fault? I should have noticed the low level and filled it before it touched empty and saved myself the panic.
- Why would Vidur panic if he had checked to see if he had all the books he needed in his schoolbag the night before?
- Why should I pay a fine on a bill that is overdue when I could have easily made a note and paid it on time? Why complain about getting drenched in the rain when we knew it would rain yet left our umbrellas/raincoats at home?
- Why get mad at the supermarket biller for charging you Rs.3 for a plastic bag when you are aware of it, and could have carried your own bags?
It is not difficult to prevent most of those minor crisis situations that bring us big grief. Quite like that annoying time when I went and ordered a size L Kurta because XL wasn’t available, hoping I’d somehow manage to fit into it, very well knowing that that particular brand’s size chart has everything smaller than others. Ugh.
What situations have you faced – that bugged the hell out of you – even though you knew you could have prevented it? Please share!