The middle-aged man, that sat next to me on the green padded stools, blurted out:
“I’m not crazy, I’ve just been in a very bad mood for a few years.”
I turned to look at this guy carefully. Did I hear him right? Was it time for his medication or mine?
“Are you alright, fella?”
“Yes, don’t worry, I’m harmless, I’m just talking to myself. I’m very stressed out.”
“Oh, I’ve heard that 75% of people have extreme stress at least one day a week. That’s a lot of stress!”
He looked at me with a far away expression.
“Why do we have stress? It seems to always be there in the background.”
He ordered a beer and bought me one also.
“Thanks, for the beer. Yes, with modern life we have a stress epidemic. I think we are stressed out because we live in surroundings that are drastically different from the environment that our brains evolved in.”
“You mean because we now live in crowded cities, have fast vehicles, and lots of electronic gadgets flooding us with info, this creates the problem.”
“Yes, we’re living in an age that our ancestors didn’t have to deal with.”
“You’re right, I always feel like I’m in a fog of uncertainty. I don’t sleep well either. Sometimes I wake up moaning, but really I haven’t been asleep yet.”
“Boy, that sounds serious!”
“You don’t know the half of it. I have money problems, wife problems, work problems, and health problems.”
“That’s a lot of problems, you’re in a bad way!”
What can I do to help this guy, I thought.
“On top of everything else, I’m a type “A” personality. I try to do too many things in less and less time. What am I going to do?”
This guy was falling apart at the seams!
“I think you could do with some “self-compassion.”
“What do you mean?”
“I think you’re too hard on yourself. When things go badly, you need to treat yourself in a kind way. Don’t heap so much criticism on yourself.”
“Okay, I’ll try that.”
We both gulped down the rest of our beers and smiled.
“You seem to be pretty calm. But having said that, you seem a little tense now.”
I laughed and said:
“I’M NOT TENSE, I’M JUST EXTREMELY ALERT!”