In a World of Suffering

It seems to me that our current times provide an easy avenue to get lost in the world’s difficulties. The news glorifies tragedy, misfortune, and dysfunction. Television is saturated with “reality” shows that are far from true reality and full of abhorrent behavior and interpersonal drama. As a psychotherapist, I hear the intimate details of very difficult situations and experiences people have endured in their lives. This immersion into human suffering offers a unique opportunity, and that is to see immeasurable strength and resilience in the face of adversity. To me, I am incredibly optimistic in the human potential and am honored to help people who continue to strive for change in their lives despite the challenges. So, in this world of suffering, my hat is off to those who continue to persevere. You are my inspiration.

Helping Other

Lately I have spent a great deal of time asking myself, what does it mean to truly help others? The simplest way to determine this is to ask another person, “How may I help you?” Often times, they will tell you exactly what they need. However, life can also be confusing and people may not have a clear idea as to how you can assist. It is during these times that things become difficult. We may offer something that we think may help, only to find that our assistance has been muddled by our own personal beliefs or agenda. Being a psychologist, I am a member of what people commonly term a “helping profession”. There is an expectation that what I have to offer will help others. For this reason, being clear about my role in the person’s life and about my job function helps to clarify what I can offer. I often find that by helping an individual gather information to clarify their own values and committed action, rather than superimposing my ideas onto them, is often the first step in helping others to gain forward momentum in their lives. So, I ask you. How may I help you?

On Teaching

I have lately been thinking about what it means to be a teacher or instructor. Often, it seems that people make a mistake in thinking that they have teaching authority solely based on title alone.

When this occurs, lessons may be given from a place of self-entitlement. As a teacher and instructor in many differing forums, I believe that the honor of being called “teacher”, “instructor”, “sensei”, or other various titles that people call me is an honorific that is only granted by an individual who values what lessons I may have to offer. Thereby, the student becomes the seat of authority in granting the opportunity to share. If what I am offering is of no value to the other, they will no longer seek to gain something from the interaction.

Teachers have a great honor and responsibility in helping to better the lives of those around us through offering what we have come to learn and understand. My commitment is to inspire and better others through my example. If value is to be had, I will gladly give.