Through the years, my role in life has always been the patient listener and empathizer and to some extent, the unofficial peacemaker. What I realized from the problems shared to me were the following:
1. Problems are mostly created by us, therefore, only the “perpetrator” can solve the problem. A friend like me can only offer a shoulder to cry on but I can never solve somebody else’s problem. What if the problem is money? I can only offer up to a certain amount but unless the person do something to solve his money problem (like maybe finding a better job), then there’s no way that I can be of absolute help.
2. Don’t problem somebody else’s problem. Believe me, it’s emotionally draining! You can empathize without ruining your plan for the weekend just because you become too affected by somebody else’s problem. But you need to be sensitive of your friend or loved one’s nature of problem, too. It’s unethical to flaunt about your latest designer bag to somebody who has money problem. It’s hurtful to show off your holiday vacation with the love of your life to somebody who has just been dumped by a lover.
3. There should be a balance between being optimistic and being pessimistic. If you tend to look at the positive side of things, he might get too hopeful. If you do the opposite, he might lose hope and end up suicidal. Being a patient listener is striking a balance between giving positive and negative opinions about the other person’s problem.
I’ve always believed that when life throws you lemons, make a lemonade and I’ve always shared this thought to friends and loved ones who are in trouble. Aside from a good support group, a strong relationship with God helps during life’s trials.