America's Little Helper
I have something to say about "America's little helper." I think that this helper is nothing to be ashamed of or to avoid being. Actually, I feel that someone who is understanding and compassionate is exactly the kind of person that needs to be present when another person is sharing something very deep and personal to them. When a person is opening up to that degree, they feel very vulnerable, and need to feel that those listening to them accept them, understand them, and sympathize with them. NOT that the people who are listening to them misunderstand or are critical of them (wanting to tell them what they should do or feel, or that their feelings are ambiguous--well, such is the nature of feelings! What does it matter if we understand them right now? They might not even understand it themselves yet, and that is OK). What it boils down to is that WE ARE NOT COUNSELORS, and I believe that unless someone comes to us for that specific purpose, that we shouldn't try to be. The purpose for sharing these personal things is to be drawn closer together, and I think that the only appropriate reaction to hearing such personal things should be gentle acknowledgement and respect. I say this passionately as a person who has recieved counseling when it wasn't wanted; in a previous semester, I shared my blood essay--NOT to be told how I should have acted or how I should feel, BUT so I could recieve some advice on my writing style and approach. Somehow, however, the focus of the seminar turned into a counseling session for me (because the people WERE caring and well meaning), I recieved NO advice on my writing, and it was horrifying. I FELT as if people were discrediting my feelings and the way I tried to handle a difficult and trying situation. I came away from that seminar thinking that I would never share my writing again. So I say hooray for "America's little helpers" who show understanding and make me feel OK when I share something personal about myself. PLEASE NOTE: This isn't to rebuke anyone--simply to plead that we be extremely careful at the way we deal with other people's life experiences and feelings. And I'm not saying that I never want people to talk to me. Only that I hope that people can be understanding when I do say something important, so I feel that I can confide in them when I do want help and advice. Anyway, the end of my ranting.
Posted by Jenny and Travis at 1/25/2008 09:45:00 AM