I'm always right. Just deal with it.
I’m kind of joking, but also being honest. For as long as I can recall, friends have come to me for advice, help and for a shoulder to cry on. More often than not, they’ve always respected and valued my observations and suggestions for whichever of life’s problems brought them to me.
It isn’t that I’m a know-it-all or even a licensed therapist — though, many have called me “Dr. Bob.” Instead, I’m a friend with a big heart and ears that are willing to listen to anybody. When a friend suffers through something, I suffer right there with them. And when a friend opens up to me, I want to do everything in my power to help, or at the very least, guide them to finding a solution.
Several years back, a friend came to me with news that she was pregnant. She and her boyfriend had not planned to have a baby, but when the couple discovered what had happened, they agreed to raise the child. When reality set in that she was going to have a child, she came to me helpless and scared and wondering if they actually could raise a baby.
At this point, she and her boyfriend had not informed their parents or anybody else. I explained to her that it was admirable to want to raise a baby, but that she would have to make sacrifices to do so —including the possibility of restructuring her college plan and, of course, finding a job.
I never intended to offer my opinion. Instead, my purpose was to show her the various options she and her boyfriend had. I even went as far as to call adoption agencies, abortion clinics, therapists and churches seeing what kind of help and professional medical and counseling services were available. I laid all of the information out for the couple and told them that I didn’t care (or even needed to know) which path they took, just as long as they were content with their decision.
It was then I realized people looked to me for sound advice. All of the past experiences — friends with relationship issues, family problems, financial woes, depression, eating disorders, etc. — flashed through my mind. What is it I possess that makes people willingly open up to me? One friend explained it was my ability to show compassion and to listen.
Friendships are all about listening — listening not only to what our friends are saying, but observing their actions,movements and thinking of why they made the decisions they did. Part of the listening process is about asking questions, too. Maybe it’s the reporter in me, but I’m never shy to ask somebody why they made such a decision, and I’ll ask it again in various forms trying to get to the root of the issue.
I value my friendships and life. It’s easy to get caught up in making irrational decisions. Sometimes, we think we’ve considered all options and outcomes, but we’ve only scratched the surface with them.I respect people who willingly want to open up to me about their deep concerns. It says a lot about them and about how they respect and value me.
On occasion, I’ve instigated the need to find help. Such is the case with a longtime friend who had a severe drinking problem. With the help of a few other friends, we got our friend the help he needed. It wasn’t an easy situation, but it was the right decision. It took my friend awhile, but eventually he thanked me for getting him help.
Life is about making choices — right and wrong. Not everybody — myself included — knows whether the decision we made was the right one. It might have been right for the moment, but wrong in the long run. But if there’s anything I try to help friends with, it’s to help them understand they are not alone in the decisions that they face.
While we each have individual lives, every decision made has a domino effect on those we surround ourselves with. More than just the decision-maker is affected.
There really is no such thing as “I” or “me.” Life is about “we” — all of us, working together.
twoday magazine wants to know: Are friends a form of therapy? Facebook us your thoughts!
Catch up with Bobby on his website at Gobobbo.com!