Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Asking About Someone's Welfare Could Change Your Life

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
- Plato

But it doesn't seem like it, does it?

Yesterday I asked a friend how he was. He replied "Can't complain. No one would listen anyway." I responded that I would listen. His retort was "Yeah, but you won't care."

Was he telling me that I didn't care about his problems, that he didn't want to divulge them to me, that he was afraid of seeming vulnerable by telling me his problems, that he didn't want to take the time to explain his problems to me because I couldn't help him? Maybe simply that he was having a bad day?

Fortunately he knew from other occasions that I did care about him and his family. But that is not the point. Did he believe that everyone is fighting his own hard battle of life and that his was no worse than that of me or anyone else?

These questions cannot be answered by anyone but my friend. However, it's important for us to remember that the most obnoxious or irritable or annoying or sad or even happy person we meet is also suffering his own serious problems.

True, some problems are worse than others. But we raise our worst problem in our own mind to the level of a critical problem in many cases. That is, no matter how severe or mild a person's worst problem is, it seems very bad to him. That's important because some people can't cope with problems at the critical level sometimes.

How people conduct their interpersonal relations show how they are managing to cope with their problems of the day.

How a person responds to a question about their welfare can tell us a great deal about their state of mind.

Given the numbers of murders, of suicides, of people on mood altering drugs and of people who can't cope with their problems to the point where they are about to commit a crime, how we interpret their reply to our question could make a great difference to that person's future.

Maybe ours as well.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems, striving to make you aware of potential problems that others have so that you know when intervention is needed.
Learn more at

No comments: