We have looked at the importance of solitude – having time to ourselves. And we have looked at the importance of companionship – having a confidante. Now we are going to look at the importance of having more than one or two people in our lives.
There are many references to the benefits of a large circle of friends. Nearly three thousand years ago the Bible said that there is wisdom in the multitude of counsellors. And even today the concept of a neutral observer or arbitrator is widely recognised. So how can we use the power of a third person, or more, in calming our anxieties?
The first, and possibly the most obvious area concerns what happens if we have an issue with our confidante. It may be that the very person that we turn to looking for a hearing ear is not available. Worse, what if our confidante disagrees with our proposed solution? After taking his or her views into consideration, we may see the sense of what they say. Or we may be even more committed to our own proposal. Now we need another viewpoint.
What if our confidante is the apparent cause of the problem? Again, we may need another person’s input in order to help us to get through the difficulty without too much anxiety.
The second area to consider is where we don’t have the authority to make a final decision. This is where “a multitude of counsellors” may be required. Of course, this can lead to its own stress. As soon as more than one person is involved in making a decision, we have to deal with more than one opinion; and opinions are often personal, which means that personalities are involved. Now it gets interesting. Some people have very strong opinions linked to their very strong personalities. How can we avoid stress in these situations?
That’s really a discussion in its own right. But, simply stated, how important is the decision, anyway? Most decisions are about personal preference. If it’s about personal preference, then is it all that important that we have our own way?
Of course, when the decision is made by a group, then we should be able to accept that we have been part of a process that seeks to find the best solution to a problem. And we can be content that, by consulting with others, we have done the best that we can to ensure a successful outcome.
Finally, there is the situation where we have no say in the matter. It would be easy to say that in this situation we can simply walk away without any need to worry. But so often it is the case that someone else’s decision affects us, or someone close to us. How we deal with this stress is the subject of the next article.