Dr. K is quite the profound woman, indeed. She has all of these little sayings that are gems to me. I remember her saying them throughout my life, so much so that many of them are ingrained in my daily routine. "Food never stays out longer than two hours," is one of my all time favorites. Another, specifically today's topic, "Bad is when it's happening to me, not so bad is when it's happening to you." I love repeating this saying to myself because it continually brings me back to my personal attempts of being a good friend and a good listener. It is a common human trait that we make our own problems our utmost priority. While this is often necessary for daily coping, we must not neglect the problems of others, big or small in our minds. As in others, I mean those with whom we regularly discuss personal issues, i.e., family, friends, and the like.
NO DIVERTING. In my lesson today, my professor made a note that this is extremely similar to comparative shopping. We want the best of the best when buying something new. We have our little antics of how to get the best deal and show the competitor who's boss. We are the consumer. We want the right thing at the right time and the right price. Similarly, when an uncomfortable topic comes up, we might shy away from discussing it. Just as we saw a $100.00 sweater, we knew the $20.00 TJ Maxx one would work fine. We want to divert the hard topics to more light-hearted thoughts. The trouble is, when we do this diverting to those we love, we neglect our close connection. "Well, if you think that's bad, just hear what happened to me today." "I've got a cashmere problem, while yours is merely polyester." This is a self-loathing way to live.
When we see a small child fall and skin their knee, we rush to help them. We overly emphasize our comforting instincts. We kiss, console, hug, give bright band-aids, and candy. We do these things for love and care, because we know that the child does not yet understand the cause for the injury. Thus, a child might cry for hours over the knee, while an adult slaps on a band-aid and continues on with the day.
People come to you to express their problems for a reason. Yes, you might have had a car accident today, but, what if your friend lost their dog? To me, their is no range in problems of sort. The car accident and lost dog are both bad. We helped the little hurt child, so we have the same caring ability to listen to others. If we staple our finger while at the copying table, that doesn't mean that our friend's coffee stain on their silk shirt is less of a problem. In medical terms, yes, an impaling is bad. However, people approach their daily dealings in very different ways. Being highly aware of this heightens our sense of purpose. Sure, it is hard to discuss the elephants in the room, affairs, mental health problems, addiction, and so on. Still, being known for the skilled ability to listen and discuss problems of all sorts causes others to see us as a mature and memorable person. Helping the child with a band-aid and stopping to assist a car accident are both equally noble.
When we hear a said problem, in our mind, we might gauge its level of "problemness" on our personal problem scale,"You have nothing to worry about compared to me." Many people do this from the start because it reaffirms inner resilience, a silent coping mechanism, even when we might not think of it that way. Not to delve too deeply into that, the point is that we need to heighten our listening and quell our judgement. Maybe we see other's issues as small problems, because they're not happening to us. But, what if they were?
A personal example:
Not too long ago, I went to see a public official about an issue. After presenting my evidence and concerns, the official remarked that they could not and would not help me with my problem, even though they had the ability. Ouch. It pains me and bugs me to death that the people who have the resources to do the right thing do not. A shot to the heart, I assure you. We've all been there, I know. This person found it easy to divert my problem, because "other things were of more importance." To me, this is never true. When I seek out assistance, I want help or direction in which to get it. I don't want you to gauge my level of "problemness" in your own terms then tell me that your good ole' boy system is the path you so choose.
No diverting. Open ears, open heart, and closed mouth will serve us all quite well.
"Bad is if it's happening to me, not so bad is if it's happening to you."