Advice for an optimist who loves helping friends

KNOW YOURSELF


“I am here to help others. What the hell is everyone else here for, I don’t know. ” So said Wystan Auden, the famous American poet.

I am an optimist – that is, someone who finds almost everything hopeful. For example, if a crocodile bites off an optimist’s hand, he will say: “It’s not so bad: at least everyone now knows that I’m left-handed.”

That is why they come to me to recharge their energy, to lighten a heavy burden, to share their problems. And I’m only happy about that, but there is one problem: I raise their morale – they lower mine.

Deeper into the rabbit hole

Not too long ago, I was helping a friend whose business had crashed.

I can do this, I thought to myself, it’s not that difficult. I went through it myself seven years ago. ”

We talked with her about collectors, debts, empty bank accounts and dishonest partners – and after a couple of hours I felt that I was falling into some bottomless rabbit hole. Still, I managed to mutter a few phrases that might help her.

“You know, I feel much better now,” she said. That’s all I remember. All the way home I drove with a terrible headache, and before my eyes again and again pictures of my own past rose up.

And the optimist in me was screaming desperately: “Ah! My hand! Where is my hand? “

Let’s pause in words

We are always ready to listen to friends when they talk about their problems. After all, we ourselves have been in their place so many times, pouring out our bitterness. But maybe we are sometimes too talkative?

I remember one wise man who once upon a time, twenty years ago, listened carefully to my story and helped me get out of despair.

“We won’t talk about the same thing several times,” he said, much to my disappointment. I remember how angry I was at him for this insensitivity. I was already in the mood for a detailed story about my sorrows and did not want to miss a single detail!

And he listened to my story completely. Once.

Then he said, “Do you think you can find solutions to problems if you talk about them? But the problem itself will not help find the answer. Remembering the problem prevents you from moving on, and I don’t want to be stuck here with you. “

You know what they say to those who want to save a drowning man: be careful not to be pulled along by him

He was not insensitive, he just knew how sticky dirt can be when given life through words.

When you talk about a problem, you give it power.

And he didn’t want us – and I, and he followed me – to lose heart over and over again. Under no circumstances. Even when it comes to matters of love.

And then, if he decided to descend with me into the depths of my problem, I would not be here now.

I needed his head to stay above the surface, so that he could throw a rope at me when I started to go to the bottom, and indicated the direction in which to swim. You know what they say to those who want to save a drowning man: be careful not to be pulled along by him.

Therefore, my advice to an optimist who loves to help friends: listen and talk about the problem – but briefly. Look for a way out. Don’t let it stick to your boots.

About the author: Janet Bertolus is a blogger.

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