Have you ever been a part of a conversation, where someone has said something to you that you had not quite grasped the meaning of? Yes? Let me guess what happened next. You thought about it for a moment, you take each word from the sentence to understand its literal meaning. But then you remember the tone of voice that was used, and you can’t quite tell whether the person was sarcastic or not. As if that wasn’t enough to handle, you then look back at the person’s body language and cannot decide whether it showed boredom, anger, excitement or once again…sarcasm. You stewed on this for a couple of minutes, which soon becomes a couple of hours, before all of a sudden it was 11PM and you fell asleep. You woke up the next day either forgetting that you were stewing over that conversation the day before, or, still stewing in which case you kept stewing until one day you finally fell asleep and forgot.
It’s easy to look deep into what someone said, even if what that someone said wasn’t deep at all. This can consume our life, making us miss out on other positive thoughts we could be having. It can make us think negatively about ourselves, by getting into the routine of assuming what everyone is saying to us is negative or insulting, when in reality, it could be a positive or a joke.
So, what’s the best way to deal with this ‘stewing’? I think it is to care less. Don’t be careless, that’s not what I am saying as that would likely be seen as disrespectful, but care less. The more we care about something, the more thinking time we allocate to it. So if you care less about what someone is telling you, you are less likely to stew over it.
A practical example of caring less could be if your boss asks you ‘Hey, could you stay half an hour later to finish this project? It really needs to get out ASAP.’ Now, if you cared too much about why your boss is asking you this, you could think ‘Why is he making me stay late? They must dislike me.’ Which can turn to ‘Why do they dislike me?’ ‘Was it something I done?’ ‘What did I do?’. This is how stewing works. One question you ask yourself turns into more questions and fewer answers. If you care less about why your boss is asking you to finish the project, you’re more likely to think of something reasonable, like ‘The customer must really need to see this project tomorrow’. Thinking like this means you stew on the conversation a lot less, and can move on with your day without the negative thoughts you create about yourself.
Remember, care less not careless.