The Benefit of Unburdening One's Sorrow
Unburdening one's heart with loyal and sincere friends is one of the means of obtaining relief from grief and mental tension. Persons in a state of grief must be given the opportunity to relieve their inward tensions by talking about their hardships to close friends.
Similarly, fellow-feeling for suffering friends, and helping them in relieving their inner tensions and solving their difficulties to the extent of one's capacity is one of the crucial as well as valuable duties of every human being. Someone whose friendship rests on real affection should not be indifferent to or oblivious of his friends in times of crisis. This matter has been given complete attention in the traditions of religious leaders and it has been pointed out that the man of faith is a source of comfort to others.
The Noble Messenger, may God's blessings be upon him and his Family, said: The best of works near God is to make happy a brother in faith by relieving him of hunger, distress and sorrow. 25
Imam al-Sadiq, may peace be upon him, said:
Whenever one of you is affected by distress and sorrow, he must bring it to the knowledge of his brother so that he may remove the gloom of grief and agony from your heart. 26
Schachter, the well-known psychologist, says:
If you are unhappy and distressed by your own conduct and condition and are unable to solve your own problem, confide your difficulty to someone that you rely upon and who is wise. Keeping a painful thought, fear, or anxiety to oneself only makes it more persistent and bothersome. Express your secret thought and seek advice from a wise and experienced person. Fear and bad thoughts dwindle and disappear on confronting people. Don't refrain from unburdening yourself before a psychiatrist or a wise friend; for, troublesome thoughts that are consigned to the unconscious will always remain an impediment between us and our mental peace and happiness. It should be known that the suppression of thoughts is of two kinds. Either it occurs naturally without our knowledge and will; that is, our ingenious mind suppresses every troublesome thought without even our noticing it and casts it into the depths of the memory. Or sometimes, knowingly and voluntarily, we banish painful thoughts and insist on not recalling them. This action is called 'repression' in the jargon of psychology. However, that does not in the least diminish the distress arising from that thought, and the more we try to forget it, the more it oppresses us, causing us greater pain and mortification. In any case, a troublesome and distressing thought that we suppress or repress, knowingly or unknowingly, does not leave us alone. Secretly or openly, it continues to torment us, and as long as we do not confide it to some wise person and seek his help and advice, we will not get rid of the suffering and torment. 27
25. Al-Kulayni, Usul al-Kafi, p. 405.
26. Wasail al Shiah, vol. 2, p. 55.
27. Rushd-e shakhsiyyat, pp. 109-110.
Adapted from: "Ethics and Spiritual Growth" by: "Sayyid Mujtaba Musawi Lari"
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