Sunday, 30 September 2007

How not to deal with problems

It strikes me that I and (probably) the rest of the world utilise a number of coping strategies when confronted with difficulties in their lives. People who appear carefree do no doubt have problems but I guess they confront their problems in a way that I have yet to discover. These are the various ways that I have sought to cope with things over the last [ahem] years. Rather than exemplify these with personal things I have tried to draw comparisons with Spurs’ current malaise.

- bury it under the carpet and hope it goes away. All that I’m left with is a carpet with a huge lump in the middle of it that’s so big I can’t even get my Hoover over it, let alone ensure it is clean. Of course if I did illustrate this one with one of my problems then I wouldn’t be able to keep it under the carpet. I’d have a slightly less lumpy rug but it’d be out there: acknowledged and demanding resolution. Thinking about that makes my head spin almost to the point of it being something that I could label a problem. Martin Jol says all the Spurs strikers are competing on an equal footing for their places in the starting line up. He denies that there is a rift between him and Jermaine Defoe. His nice guy status means that we can only take him on his word which means that this is a classic case of denial. Where will it end up? No doubt one or the other of them will no longer be in the employ of Spurs. The most likely scenario is that JD ends up at Everton or Aston Villa and puts three past Robinson in his first game against his old club. This, of course, is an unsatisfactory resolution. 30,000 voices chanting ‘Jermaine Defoe, he’s a yiddo’ seem incapable of encouraging the big man to even accept that he has a carpet, let alone accept that there’s anything underneath it. (I think that taking analogies too far is another problem for me but luckily I don’t errr…brush that one etc. etc.)

Putting it into a global perspective- This is the classic that we learn from our parents and swear we will never impose on our own offspring: “ It could be worse”, “People are starving in Africa”, “Worse things happen at sea”. It may be that perspective is everything but it really does only work from the outside. Any kind of physical or emotional attachment to the problem and an attempt to put it into the wider picture does not, as is anticipated, make you realise the relative insignificance of your problem; all it does is leave you with a bitter self loathing on the lines of “ God, look at me, I’m getting in a stew about this, how pathetic am I?” Spurs, for example, are languishing in 18th position in the Premier league. The ‘glass-is-half-full’ types may well argue that this makes them the 18th best club in the country at this moment in time. They may remind me that for two years running we have been fifth best. They may try to argue that since the Premier league is one of the best in the world that this actually makes Spurs one of the World’s top clubs. They will also implore me to consider the plight of Notts Forest or Leeds (actually that does make me feel a bit better). Ultimately though I’m left feeling like a spoilt brat a) because, yeah, it is only football and a lot of teams have it a lot worse and b) it still really, really matters.

Talking to someone about it but not really- this is my favourite. I get to pretend that I am being mature and sensible by saying ‘yes, x and y are troubling me; these things make me feel a, b and c.” This may be the way in to those intense counselling sessions you read about or see Tony Soprano engage in, but it’s nothing more than a limp parody. Nothing is resolved. By ‘getting it off my chest’ I have merely shifted the discomfort from heart to brain. By sharing it I have not halved it; at worst I have doubled it by making someone else stress about me. Martin Jol does this every week on Match of the Day. He hints to Spurs supporters that he is aware of a defensive frailty or an issue with strikers scoring goals. We wait for him to go deeper, to explore the realistic and perhaps revolutionary remedy but what does he do? He goes with the same line up and shares the problem again the following week.

Blame someone else. I don’t have referees to blame but I do shout at people who don’t deserve it when I do something wrong. I think it goes without saying that this is ultimately self destructive. Having said that, Sunderland’s goal on the first day of the season was clearly over time and we should definitely have had a penalty against the Arses to put us two up etc etc….

Here’s one problem I am willing to come clean about: I have boring work to do. Instead I have typed this. Engaging in displacement activity makes my stomach churn with anxiety. Phew, that feels better, and I guess a lot of people have it worse and, anyway, it’s not my fault this work is so boring…

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