Reading between the lines of silence
For many, the whimsical idea of a hero is of that person who can do every single thing. However, Margarida Gonçalves thinks in another way. “A hero, in real life, shouldn’t be who does everything, but who’s present in everything they do, with humility, gratitude and compassion”.
Margarida is a psychologist, with experience in the community context, social and with elderly. At the moment, she works as a clinic psychologist, not losing the contact whatsoever with the social environment of psychology, a field of her interest since her university’s times. She states that her objective is to “bring psychology to the streets, to the community”. Psychology “without any stigmas nor prejudice, which still remain present up to this day”, she laments.
“Only madmen go to a psychologist”, still remains one of the major existent prejudices. The devaluation of mental illness and the difficulty in asking for help are factors that hinder the work of professionals. The way that society analyses and behaves is also a determining factor for the behavioral evolution, “we are all agents of change”, she says.
Everyone of us has something
new to learn with
all the people which
we cross paths with
Margarida believes, “everyone of us has something new to learn with all the people which we cross paths with”. She collects in her memory valuable lessons, born of the experience and contact, of connection and empathy. “Not all of us should be feeling what we are feeling at that moment, in that context”, she learned in one of the most striking episodes of her early career. It was Christmas at the nursing home, a period when everyone gathers, family and friends, and the house fills up with cheer. However, not everyone felt like that. Margarida remembers how she got closer to one of the elders, alone and dispirited, “doctor, the party is external, not internal”. To that man, that day was just another one, Christmas or not, that his family wasn’t around. “My heart is full of sadness” he continued, moments before his eyes turned misty. “It was a shower of humility. It’s necessary to be humble, grateful, to look into each other in their whole and have compassion”, something that the psychologist recognizes is lacking in society.
Nevertheless, not everything goes according to plan and there are cases that help is not successful. Who changes “is the person themselves and they may not want to change”. Here, she highlights the influence of society, the criticism and the bad looks. At first, Margarida felt an internal revolt, but “the priority is the person’s emotions, giving them space and having the notion that behavioral change is not immediate”. Even not working as planned, the important thing is “reaching the end of the day and thinking if I did the best I could do. If the answer is yes, great. If not, tomorrow’s another day”.
What makes Margarida the happiest? The answer is quite simple. Being able to “show the person that they can be much more than what they think they are” and by the end of the day knowing that “in that moment, in that situation, I was there”.