I read something interesting that has me asking - Do People Care About Your Problems?

On Monday’s post, I talked about the idea of talking less about our problems and more about our joys.

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As I was reading the excellent time management and productivity book Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy yesterday, I read something that touched on this topic and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.

In chapter 15 Brian talks about how we need to be able to motivate ourselves.

He talks about being positive and being able to deal with our moods and emotions. Check – so far so good, I’m on board with that.

Then he mentions –

It’s been said that you should never share your problems with others because 80 percent of people don’t care about your problems anyway, and the other 20 percent are kind of glad that you’ve got them in the first place’.

Ouch, that stings!

To be honest I was shocked when I first read this sentence.

For starters, there is the concept that we shouldn’t be sharing our problems at all. As a person who has always believed it is better to talk about our problems this certainly got me thinking.

Not to mention, as a blogger that’s exactly the opposite of what we do. Bloggers tend to get stuff out there for discussion instead of keeping their thoughts to themselves.

Then, of course, comes the 80 percent idea. People don’t care about your problems. My first thought was that can’t possibly be true – of course, people care.

I was particularly intrigued by the 20 percent notion of being glad of other people’s problems. A few thoughts did spring to mind on why people might behave this way.

People want to be right

They not only want to be right but more to the point they are happy that you were wrong, wrong, wrong.

Think about the context of how these words are usually said –

‘I told you so.’

‘You should have listened to me.’

‘I’m always right.’

Comments like this reek of I was right and you were wrong.

Related content for when people don’t support you – 

People want to feel superior

Last year I told a friend that I felt terrible that I had failed a particular type of test. Instead of offering any form of comfort, she stated that she was brilliant at those tests and always got a great score.

I immediately felt worse – she felt superior.

Related post12 Techniques to Stop Feeling Inferior

People like to pass judgment

We can all be judgmental. I think small levels of judgment are part of being human. Emphasis on the small levels.  Being too judgmental generally makes us difficult to be around.

I once heard that one of the reasons people like watching soap operas is because they make our own lives look stable.

After all who could have such a screwed up love life for example. There is an element of escapism in soaps (similar to the action movies) because events are so over the top they could never possibly happen. There is also an element of judgment for characters being so – well you name it naive, stupid, weak, promiscuous etc. The bottom line is we get to judge them a little bit.

Reality television works on the same concept.

It works the same way in our everyday lives. People share their problems and the chaos happening in their lives and certain people pass judgment.

Some people might not say anything but secretly be thinking, thank goodness I’m not that insert judgment word here. The other option is that they could be very vocal in voicing their disapproval and judgment.

The outcome of the above conversations – we wish we had kept our problems to ourselves.

The moral of this story…

Pick your confidants wisely

Sometimes it might feel that certain people don’t care about what is troubling us.

If this is the case, don’t confide your deepest thoughts and feelings to these people. Keep conversations about more general topics of interest.

Sometimes it feels like we are only there to listen to other people’s problems and they would prefer we keep quiet about our own.

While relationships involve give and take, some can survive on the balance being uneven. This comes down to each individual and what they need from the relationship.

One of my girlfriends and I discuss everything. I know she genuinely cares about me and I love and care for her. I want to hear about any problems she is facing. I want her to open up and share her thoughts and feelings with me and I know that feeling is reciprocated.

I think the part that makes sharing our problems work is that we share both the light and the dark in our lives. It’s not always about what is going wrong. Even if we do talk about our problems for a long period of time, we can still manage to find joy or at least a sense of humor in there somewhere. One minute we could be crying together and five minutes later laughing our heads off.

Do you believe in sharing your problems? Do you believe in the 80/20 concept in this case?

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Want to read Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time yourself? This book is a great resource for finding more time to get the truly important things done in life.  It’s a quick but incredibly powerful read that could change your life! I totally love this book.