|Give help, have empathy|
|Written by Jes Scheinpflug, Columnist|
|Wednesday, 17 September 2008 18:00|
Newsflash: everyone has problems. What may not be understood as easily are the specific problems of each individual.
For example, it is really easy to feel sorry for someone who has cancer or someone who has lost a friend or relative.
It is not as simple to feel sorry for someone who has a boring teacher, hates his or her new haircut, or even just has a hard exam coming up. Especially if this person complains a lot, sympathy goes away.
I have two points I want to make with this. One, get help. Two, learn empathy.
We established that everyone has problems, so then why is it so taboo in the Midwest to receive counseling or therapy? No matter what your problem or cause of unhappiness is, if you are truly upset there are people out there who want nothing more than to help you, or to listen to you vent.
There are phone numbers to crisis and referral places and on campus there are free counseling services. Also, with most student insurance there are other free options in town.
With such a fast-paced lifestyle and everyone having problems, therapy is such a great way to find time for yourself. Even if you just reflect on your week, there is an issue to be discussed.
I believe that we live in a beautiful world and it is because of not only the counselors (thank you all), but because of everybody.
Every person has all the potential in the world, and counseling only enhances it by overcoming the inevitable problems you will encounter in life.
I hate the stigma that you're "crazy" if you see a counselor. I think it is the exact opposite; you're trying to be all you can be. Although discussing problems with family or friends is a great idea, sometimes an outside listener or opinion could be more helpful. If nothing else, what do you have to lose?
The second point is that every person should have empathy for everyone. No matter what, you should be able to put yourself in someone else's shoes and try to understand how he or she feels.
Of course, with this there are easier things to relate to or understand like cancer or loss, but also things like losing your phone or spending a lot of money on gas or walking to class in the pouring rain.
What about more extreme problems such as abuse or even murder? Although extreme, please just hear me out.
Every person wants to be happy. Every person (excluding some with mental illnesses) has reasoning for his or her actions. They might not be sound or even explainable reasons, but they are reasons.
Can you imagine what would trigger you to abuse someone?
That person probably suffered in one way or another. As one of my esteemed professors told my class, "it has to go somewhere." Maybe that is too extreme. Imagine if someone yells at you or begins an argument. Before you get defensive, it will probably be beneficial for both parties if you try to understand his or her point of view first.
There is a less controversial example from Oprah.com that reflects the point of empathy: a woman named Lisa was fired from her job and her friend denied the problem. Since Lisa had wealthy parents, she didn't think it was a big deal. She just said Lisa would have a story for the party tonight.
The article goes back to a more universal issue and states, "If you live in a world that you would like to see less divided by ethnic, economic and religious strife, you'll find that attempting to comprehend the needs of your sworn enemies is a prerequisite to any meaningful action you can take."
Ultimately, by showing empathy toward friends, families and acquaintances, this can be a mild form of therapy for those with problems and even combat social issues such as racism.
Even if you will never see the reasoning or find any ethical explanation, try to have some empathy. Put yourself in that person's shoes. Moreover, no matter what your problems are or how extreme they are, get help.
The Beatles' song titles had it all right: "Help," "All You Need is Love" and "Revolution." My aforementioned professor said she's a one-woman revolution to encourage counseling; now it is two.