Stuart Katz

Conversation with a Friend Could Make a Difference

In every person’s life, there is going to be a defining moment. I’ve had it, and depending on your age, I am sure you may have had it as well. That one moment when you are so low, so depressed, so excited, or so happy; it will literally define your path. If it is a great moment in life, then you are going to want to share it with your friend of course. However, if it is one of your worst moments, your tendency to discuss or share becomes a different situation altogether. I’ve had that moment. I was at my lowest point, feeling down, despondent, exasperated, and knew I was definitely not objective. I know what I did when I got there, what will you do?

For some, they have reached the end of the road. There’s no hope in sight. When you have reached the proverbial bottom, and all feels lost and out of reach, will you muster the courage to make a phone call or to lay down and admit defeat? This is a very pivotal question for everyone to think about. Your answer could very well determine if you are going to sink or swim. Yes, I have used some old clichés, but most of us can relate to those. We all know there is a low point in life where we just want to give up and not fight for what we need or want. Be it overcoming pain, addiction, depression, the moment you give up in your heart, the mind is rational, and blindly follows. When you get so low that you can’t even get your heart back into the fight, what should you do? Well, in the absence of expert training by a physician or psychologist, turn to the one who usually knows you best. The wisdom and encouragement is best found in a friend – which could be your spouse, a parent, a high school friend or one from any other point in your life.

Remember this for the days you are down and despondent — your life has already made a mark in many lives. Depending on your age, there are school friends, spiritual leaders, family members, college friends, coworkers, and associates. If you find yourself in a place thinking that nobody will be affected by your absence remember the ripple effect. Your actions WILL matter to other people. You do matter to your friends. Hence, the title of this passage. My friends, a simple conversation with a friend could make a difference.

Repeat that in your head. Tell yourself that as many times as it takes for you to understand that if you are ever feeling like nobody cares. The power of conversation and human connection is more powerful and meaningful than being at the top of your game and alone. Think about this. When you have great news, who do you want to tell? Who do you want to celebrate with? When you are devastated or heartbroken, who do you call? Your friends. I know I do – well I try to. When I get a new client, discover a great new place to eat, a new place to vacation, or just something fun, I want to share it with my friends. Yet, when I’m feeling down and alone – I want to keep it to myself – but just the same it should be shared with a friend just as you would want them to share with you (well I would).

It is easy to get caught up in the day to day business of our lives and being as we are surrounded by technology, it is easy to lose that human connection. Yes, we keep in touch through text, social media and email, but there is no substitute for the art of conversation with our friends. For many of us, those conversations have made all the difference.

Throughout life, I’ve had different people that I would share things with – that one person in my life whose opinion mattered most. Looking back, I have to be thankful that I had someone to listen to me and help me sort through my thoughts. I didn’t realize until later in life how important verbalizing ideas, and having someone to give me an honest opinion, mattered — and I’m not only speaking about if I gained a few pounds or if my shirt is a mis-match. I’m sure we’ve all had that person though. From deciding who you want to ask out on a date to letting “your person” know you have decided to get married, to accept a job or to turn away a client – we all seek acceptance for the important milestones in our life. We all want to be able to talk to someone and have someone validate our feelings and/or choices. I hope you are also someone’s person as well (possibly even more than one). Think about it. We’re all connected through our network of people. We all want to celebrate moments, and, celebrate a life lived well when the time has come for it to end. It is needed for most people.

What it all boils down to is quite simple…..Life is messy, emotions are messier.

Relationships are complex, and made up of a million little things that will help define you as a person. And so is our brain. What has remained the same throughout the history of man and even civilization is this, words are powerful. Words can heal and help and hurt and they can also add value to the person you say them to. If you ever find yourself on the other end of the phone and someone asks you, can we talk? Please remember this, a conversation with a friend can make ALL the difference, and will you be there for them? If you walk away with nothing else from these words – please remember, I’m Here For You!

About the Author
Stuart is a co-founder of the Nafshenu Alenu mental health educational initiative founded in 2022. He currently serves on the Board of Visitors of McLean Hospital, affiliated with Harvard University Medical School. He serves as Chairman of the Board of OGEN – Advancement of Mental Health Awareness in Israel; chairman of Mental Health First Aid Israel and a partner in “Deconstructing Stigma” in Israel. He is on the Board of Directors of the Religious Conference Management Association. He has counseled over 7,000 individuals and families in crisis
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