Conversation with a psychologist Dmitry Semenik
Is all charity good? When can it become soulful? About why and how to do good deeds, we talk with a psychologist, the founder of the group of sites "
– One of my friends said that if now there are those whom public opinion agrees to consider to be heroes of our time, then these are most likely well-known people from the sphere of charity. And the truth is, sometimes they become almost media stars. For example, Dr. Lisa was such a person. The question arises: why are they and only they most likely today recognized as heroes? And what’s more, does not the charity and risks from the point of view of the presence in it of something potentially soulful?
– You have raised a rather interesting topic. Indeed, Dr. Lisa has become, I dare say, some such idol. And to express in her address some kind of doubt is the same as putting yourself outside of society. From you all immediately unsubscribe in social networks and
Although, in my opinion, Dr. Liza became such an authority not so much because she did charity work better than other people, but rather because she wrote very well in LiveJournal. I myself enjoyed reading its materials with great pleasure and I understand all the people who also read and respected her.
– What are you alerted Dr. Lisa?
– It does not alarm me. I am concerned that the cult of personality, which arose around her. Why is the person’s words (and in some cases appearances, videos) of a person given more importance than his deeds? After all, there are a lot of people like Dr. Liza, but she is singled out, raised on a pedestal precisely because of her creativity in LiveJournal.
But it is fundamentally important what purpose a person pursues. If we use our media solely as a means to do our work better, then we ourselves will not receive any harm.
But in general, in my opinion, there is a serious substitution now. Today there is no talent higher than the media talent. For example, a person writes about his good deeds somewhere in social networks. This is a special talent. For example, I do not possess them. And many other people also do not have, but they also do something useful. But only the first, thanks to the media, voluntarily or involuntarily become peculiar gurus, idols.
Showing off your talents is like being proud of someone else’s jewelry.
– I understand what you’re talking about. These people are collecting money. They have a different kind of charity than ours. Indeed, it is impossible to collect money without media.
We have a different situation. Our project exists with almost no money.
– But I understood you so that the media as such is a rather harmful thing. Or not?
– Not harmful, but dangerous. It may be necessary to do this, but it is dangerous to do it from a spiritual point of view. Here begins the field of spiritual life. You need to constantly, daily, remind yourself who you are and that all your talents are from God. According to the Holy Fathers, it is a sin to show off your talents. It is like being proud of other people’s ornaments. If any of your talent from God, then what is your merit?
What we can bring is intention and effort. Because after a while you get tired, a gradual burnout begins, everything gets boring. And the people you are helping to get bored too, get tired of their shortcomings. Labor to overcome our weaknesses is what we can probably do.
– In fact, the country already has a fairly large charity sector, and there are constantly discussions about the meaning of this activity. One of the points of view expressed is that this is the same profession as all the others. You can do journalism, you can do politics, but you can do charity. Internal content, spiritual issues in general do not really care about them as professionals. They understand their task as simply providing social services to their wards.
– Not sure that from a psychological point of view, they should be considered as benefactors. How do they differ from people working in business? This topic is just business. People have such work. Yes, some good deeds are obtained at the exit. But from a psychological point of view, this is no different from a business.
– But they will say: we really help our wards. For example, they bought 10 computers. How is this not a good deed?
– We are discussing even something that is good or not good. We discuss what happens to the person who does it. I believe that in this case other psychological laws simply act. Maybe the person here has a goal – it’s just good to do your job and get a good salary for it. Exactly the same goal as anyone working in a commercial enterprise.
– Let’s then put the question differently. In your opinion, which charity is right and which is not?
– It depends on what is considered correct. Charity has many facets. I now consider it from the point of view of the person who participates in it, and with some higher goals than simply getting a good salary.
– Then I ask: is there any kind of charity from which it is better for a Christian to refrain?
– There is no such charity, which in principle is harmful for anyone who does it. A minute ago, you were engaged in harming yourself to harm, but now you have made a spiritual effort in the right direction, and you are already doing it to your advantage. This is not some kind of decision that must be made at the beginning of the path, and then you follow it, and everything is good or, on the contrary, everything is bad. The Holy Fathers say that the gift of reasoning is one of the highest gifts. You need constant spiritual and intellectual work, observation of yourself, understanding why you did this or that.
The same should be in the practice of charity. Otherwise, it can be disastrous. A person will be haunted by many temptations, such as vanity.
Why do you need to do charity
Often they go to charity in order to receive the acceptance, recognition and love that parents did not give.
– What do you think, why do people do charity work? And why does she need to do it at all?
– During my collaboration with many people who are engaged in good deeds, I have seen various examples and motives for why people come here to work. I would single out two main, most common motives: the first – for the sake of improvement, the second – to consider myself good and significant. The second motive is unconscious, due to a psychological problem called “reduced self-acceptance”. Many of us have not received parental love. And a person can enter into adult life with the unconscious, as a rule, the desire to somehow get that acceptance, recognition and love that parents did not give. The main ways here are personal relationships: love, marriage, and sometimes friendship.
But for people with a similar problem to build such a relationship is quite difficult. And much easier then go to charity. A person will solve some serious problems of other people, receive satisfaction from the consciousness of this, because in the process of this activity he is significant for other people. And if at the same time there is still gratitude from the beneficiaries or from the head of the organization, even more pleasant. And a person sits down on the bait of such a way to satisfy their need to be loved. But at the same time, he does not solve his root problems, and once he stops doing charity work, he will feel about the same as before these activities.
I saw that you value more the feeling of your importance and the gratitude of other people – urgently take care of yourself
Therefore, it is necessary to solve their spiritual and psychological problems, and not to hide from them in charity. It is important, if you are doing a good deed, to understand why you are doing it. If you see that in fact you value more the feeling of your own worth and the gratitude of other people, then immediately take care of yourself. Or even go out of charity in order to take care of yourself. First, deal with yourself, and then you can come back.
– Do you need to wait for thanks when doing charity?
– Of course, not necessary. Moreover, the holy fathers say that you don’t even need to be friends with the people to whom you do good. Because the friendship will be poisoned.
– Feeling that you owe me, that I am better than you, because I helped you, but not you to me.
– It turns out some kind of dry charity.
– It’s not me who invented it, it’s the holy fathers say so. Indeed, in our project, too, there were times when our volunteers began to make friends with the wards, in whom they invested a great deal. And then between them there were conflicts and disappointments.
When I started the project, I was already well read in the holy fathers. Initially, I understood that it was necessary to do this in order to improve my soul. In fact, all more or less spiritually living Orthodox feel and understand to themselves that their love is imperfect. Just their back, love is over, some resentment begins and
I felt this most acutely when I had a personal crisis. The reason for creating the first site was that the bride left me right before the wedding. And in this state, I very acutely experienced the imperfections of my love for people in general. This consciousness struck me so much then, it was acute that I ran to the first charitable organization and began to go to the sick children in the hospital.
The task scares, makes you feel your failure? And you go to meet fear – and God will give you the necessary ability
– So why do you need to do charity? To perfect the ability to love?
– To improve yourself. Based on this, it is necessary to choose not what is most easy for you to do, but what is difficult. Many people feel their spiritual poverty, the inability to say something warm to a person, somehow to console him. Such a task scares, makes you feel your failure. And you go to meet this fear. And you will see that if your intentions are pure, God will give you this ability.
I experienced such an experience, when simply killed by my personal crisis came to the hospital to orphans who were sitting in boxes. You stand in front of the entrance to the ward and you feel that now you have to give something to these children, and you have nothing, you yourself are in need. But you take yourself in hand and walk with prayer. And the strength is given! In the period of my most acute heartache, I helped much better than after three years when I felt almost an expert in this matter. So it turns out that one wound heals another.
It should be understood that the people you will help are imperfect. It is easy to love the person who behaves beautifully with you. But in the lives of such people, of course, no. All wards in one way or another show their imperfection. Someone poops for themselves, someone is ungrateful and says something bad about you. But all manifestations of human imperfection must be able to endure, still find the strength and good feelings in relation to a person in order to help him.
The main dangers are vanity and power.
– Then please tell us about your experience in charity. How do you think you need to communicate with employees and build charity projects?
– First, volunteers are involved in our project, not employees. Secondly, our project and experience are very specific, so my recommendations may not be suitable for everyone. Your first site "
Of the holy fathers, I understood the basic spiritual dangers. This, above all, vanity and power. Because there is the temptation of some kind of power over the people whom you help, over their minds and life. When you, for example, give a person advice, to divorce him or not to divorce. And even more so in conversations with suicides, where every word of yours sometimes comes to life. When volunteers on the forum lead a helping dialogue with a person, their word can influence the fate of the person who asked for help. If a person listens to you, then, on the one hand, this is a burden of responsibility. But on the other hand, this is a feeling of power to which you can begin to revel, especially if you see that your advice went to a man for good.
Therefore, from the very beginning, I began to build work so that no one worked for us according to these motives – vanity and others like him. For example, I wrote on the forums under a pseudonym. And all the volunteers too. Initially, many people were eliminated, because I specifically met those who want to work rather dryly, although many expected that they would immediately be praised for their good feelings.
I once talked with one journalist. He said that he, too, was engaged in good deeds — he carried old shoes to a landfill and put them neatly in the dustbin. And many people consider such actions a good deed. And if they want to help someone else on the site, then this is generally a feat.
My goal for volunteers was what? Do not lead people into temptation. It was my first duty – as much as possible, to help a little to avoid temptations.
At first, I did not think at all that there would be helpers. I just created a forum, people began to come there for whom the problem of separation turned out to be relevant. And some of them, quite a large part, not only listened to the advice, but also began to go on neighboring topics. And gradually, by itself, a community of mutual aid was formed. That is, those people who have already experienced parting in their lives began to help. This is a method known in psychology: mutual aid of sufferers. It is known that, for example, people who are not psychologists, but who themselves have experienced something similar, work perfectly on the help phones of potential suicides. According to the method of sympathy, they do what needs to be done.
– But why are they vested with the prerogative of advisers? What is their spiritual experience? And if they just give the wrong advice?
– If a person came to the forum, it means he has no one to turn to. And compared to the person with whom he usually communicates – close, someone on social networks – our helping academics. And those who have a psychological education, and who does not. It so happened that all of us are Orthodox. Our basic principle “do no harm” also plays a role, so, of course, we are extremely careful in our advice if it comes to them. This is probably one of the toughest forums in RuNet on the part of the rules and moderation. Removed all at least potentially harmful.
– Did you get a priest? So that, conditionally speaking, if not spiritual control, then at least spiritual advice on the conduct of the forum?
– We were lucky that Hegumen Theodore (Yablokov), who led the priest’s virtual office, came to us from the very beginning (God sent him). And he gave us advice. But when I tried to give him the role you are talking about, he, as a wise and intelligent man (he is not only a priest, but graduated from the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute), reasonably reasoned that he did not have sufficient competence in psychology. There are fundamental spiritual principles, everything is quite simple with them. It is clear that if we had obvious mistakes, he would have pointed them out to us. But everything went well with us and will continue to follow Orthodoxy.
There are many reasons for irritation. But this is the same spiritual struggle, the very improvement
– Have you encountered the problem of your own irritability, resentment at ingratitude? To what extent is charity generally a human matter? How many are able to truly engage in charity?
– The first year, when you yourself suffered such a trauma, everything is going fine. You have love, sympathy. You warm everyone who came to the forum. And then you realize that for a long time everyone has been saying the same thing. The same situation, the same answers. “And this same thing is asking … Are they unable to read the forum?” There are a lot of reasons for irritation. But this is the same spiritual struggle, the very improvement, without which it is impossible to do it. We must learn to endure it and overcome in ourselves.
– You said that you are trying to be dry with incoming volunteer employees in order not to feed their vanity. But shouldn’t the employees warm with love and each other, and not just their wards?
– I did not speak about the relationship at all, but about how I meet them when they turn with the desire to help. My goal is for a person to realize that he will do this for his own sake and for the sake of other people, and not so that some “bosses” would admire and praise him. My task is not to stand between him and good deed, not to replace the higher authorities. What is his motive? If the motive is sincere, he does not care.
But in general, with regard to mutual love, here you are absolutely right. As far as possible, we, of course, try to maintain the atmosphere of love in all of our groups, because each site is engaged in a separate team. Although I personally lack this emotionality.
We have all the work and communication taking place on the Internet. This has its advantages, but there are also disadvantages. For example, the minus is that at a distance to warm a person is also more difficult. Therefore, in a sense, we have a little all emasculated. But what you are saying is love – it is present. Without it, in our business is simply impossible.