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Walfish: Blind faith in others pays off greatly

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Walfish: Blind faith in others pays off greatly

Josh Walfish, Columnist

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Thursday I walked into a room with eight strangers and spilled my darkest secrets.

The only thing we now know about each other is our name, our year and whatever it is we decide to tell one another. The bond we have is unique and allows us to have open and honest conversations with one another.

This is not a description of one of my discussion sections, rather an explanation of the first day of group therapy.

I began this treatment in the fall and I’ve learned more about myself than anything else I could have imagined.

The reason group therapy is so effective is a little secret that makes society fearful — blind faith.

From the day we’re born, our parents and teachers preach for us not to talk to strangers. The idea of having a conversation with someone we don’t know anything about is frightening for many people. The concept of trusting someone whom you’ve just met with your deepest insecurities takes it to another level of fear.

Yet for 90 minutes every week for the remainder of the quarter I will sit in a room with the same eight people and talk about our anxieties. We try to understand one another and give our best feedback in order to help the person.

This approach is a far cry from my expectations when I came to Evanston just four years ago.

I came to Northwestern determined to only let a select few know about my past and all the problems I face on a daily basis. I wanted to protect myself more than I did in high school and as such was going to put people through a rigorous test of trust before I divulged even a single secret of mine.

Yet, that approach resulted in a couple of people who were too afraid of who I once was to be my friend and some people who felt my problems were too big for them. Don’t get me wrong, I did make some great friends with this approach, but those relationships took a lot of time to develop.

The thing about blind faith that fascinates me is that it brings out the best in people. When you put your trust in someone, they normally respond positively and try to protect that trust. When you open up to someone about your deepest and darkest secrets, humans recognize that vulnerability and respect that.

This is a phenomenon that puzzles me based on everything we’ve been taught since childhood, and I wish I had the ability to test out why this is the case. If I had to take a guess — and this is my column so I will — I believe this occurs because we assume the role thrust upon us by the person who is putting their faith in us. Our mindset is simply, they trust in me, so I must uphold that trust.

I’m not going to say blind faith is foolproof, because there are clearly a few bad apples on the tree, but I’ve been more than surprised by the number of friendships I’ve created through this notion of trusting someone you’ve just met.

It’s what makes me so excited to walk into that room every Thursday with those eight people, many of whom will be friends by the end of the quarter. When I walk into that room, we don’t need to have a superficial chat in order to break the ice. We can dive headfirst into our issues, all of which hold the same weight. It’s 90 minutes of learning and growing as human beings and it’s all made possible by blind faith.

Now I’m not saying you should go out and tell your scariest secret to the next person you see walking down Sheridan. I’m not saying you should trust every single person you meet here at NU. But it might not be a bad thing to open up to someone you just met at a party because you never know if blind faith can help you solve your problem.

Josh Walfish is a Medill senior. He can be reached at joshuawalfish2014@u.northwestern.edu. If you want to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com.

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