This Friday, we were delighted to have Sweet_Anita, a Twitch streamer, join us on the HealthyGamer stream. Dr. K and Anita had a chat about her experience with happiness, depression, empathy, and being a good person. It was a very enlightening interview with lots of AoE healing, so we highly recommend checking it out!
How Does Empathy Help?
Anita mentioned that she did not like getting pitied for her situation. She preferred empathy. Dr. K asked her what the difference between the two was, and she made an important distinction. Pity is when you’re glad that you’re not someone, whereas empathy is when you feel for someone.
If a friend comes to you and shares something that has been bothering them, how do you respond? Do you try to help them solve their problem? Or do you listen to them empathically and validate their feelings?
Usually, many people’s automatic response in such a situation is to problem-solve. That is especially true for gamers. Our brains are so good at problem-solving that we automatically assume that this is the best way to help our friends. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes, people want emotional support — they want someone to be there for them. Just because you cannot help them through the problems they are facing doesn’t mean that you are not helpful.
Simply having genuine responses such as, “Hey man, that sounds really rough” or “That sounds really exhausting bro, is there anything I can do for you?” can go a long way towards demonstrating support and validating their emotions. This communication method is called reflective listening, and it is a fantastic way of showing empathy, even when you cannot directly help your friend solve their problems.
Can We Be Happy In Unfavourable Circumstances?
Dr. K and Anita discussed how she was so grateful for everything that she gets to do in life. Dr. K commented on how she has a lot of gratitude baked into her worldview, and that is one of the reasons she can stay happy despite her circumstances. She does not hold expectations of the world that tie her down — she takes life as it comes and accepts the hand that she has been dealt.
We can all learn a lot from Anita. This concept of taking life as it comes is one of the main things Buddha talked about. He said that happiness in life is not about your circumstances. Instead, it is about a mindset of detachment — of being able to appreciate as opposed to expecting. We can see the proof of this from the following: people can be extremely well off in their life and still be unhappy, while other people can struggle a lot, and still maintain a happy and optimistic mindset.
While it is true that our circumstances influence our level of happiness, but they do not have to control it. It sounds easy in theory, but it is tough to put it into practice. One of the reasons meditation is so effective is that it trains you to become detached from something you don’t attribute too much value to — your breath. If you can teach yourself to observe the flow of your breath without judgment, then it is possible to extend that practice into your daily life, and develop a sense of detachment and let go of expectations.
Dr. K explains how to detach yourself from suffering in this video:
How Anita Overcame Her Depression
Dr. K and Anita decided to explore her experience with depression and the impact that had on her life. One of the ways that she was able to come out of it was by changing her environment.
Often, we think that the solution to our problems lies in our mind or our worldview. While that is partly true, we can make a huge difference in our lives and facilitate positive change by moving out of toxic environments. If we take a person in an abusive household and put them in a supportive environment with the resources they need to grow, they will start to recover slowly and eventually thrive.
Anita came to the same conclusion. She changed her environment and gave herself time to heal and grow. She started to go for runs and slowly took back control of her life. At the same time, she began to develop her worldview and tried to figure out what was beautiful about the world. It helped her develop a philosophy that worked for her and enabled her to move forward in life.
To learn more about mental health and suicidality, click here.
Being Forgiving To Your Detriment
Dr. K suggested to Anita that perhaps that reason for some of the problems that she faces in her relationships with other people is that she is too forgiving. She holds herself to such a high standard that she does not allow herself to hold any negative feelings.
Dr. K and Anita had a conversation about self-love in a previous interview. Check it out!
Generally speaking, we try to be good people. We try to help others when possible and this is definitely true of the gaming community. We help our friends in need, but we neglect to help ourselves when we have needs that are not being met. We prioritize ourselves lower than others on the list of things to care for. That is a problem because even if our goal is to help other people, we can only do that when we take care of ourselves first. However, this is not a free pass to be selfish. It is a wake-up call to take care of ourselves so that we can better help each other.
That also applies to the setting of boundaries. Anita experienced situations where people crossed her boundaries, but she felt that it was appropriate to forgive the people involved and move on. She tried to be a good person at the cost of her mental well-being. Sometimes, we have to take a step back and look at the big picture. Are you repeatedly hurting yourself to give other people another chance? If that is the case, then that is not fair to you. You are not a selfish person if you put yourself first in that situation and try to move on.
Check out the full interview here!