Empathy Isn’t About Taking Away The Pain

I taught a class with a fellow coach and friend a little while ago about Empathy. We showed in The Model how empathy is an emotion. Thoughts that lead to empathy are: “I can understand why you would feel that way.” “I have felt that way before.”

It was very intriguing to me, in the class, when one woman gave us an example of something she found difficult. So many of us couldn’t help ourselves but to give her solutions without really understanding HER thoughts and feelings. We were trying to solve her problem with OUR thoughts and feelings.

We were nowhere near the position to be able to help her with her problem. We hadn’t gotten to empathy, yet.

We are empathetic when we listen, ask questions, and really hear THEIR thoughts and feelings, not imagine OUR thoughts and feelings in that situation. Once we REALLY get to empathy, our actions follow easily. Usually, the most helpful thing is to just listen. As humans, once we’ve talked our problems through, we usually have a pretty good idea of what our answer is.

Empathy is being with someone in their pain and struggle, it’s not taking it away.

P.S. The video on the link is an old video. I offer free 45 minute coaching sessions. They’re amazing and will have you seeing clearly what the problem is and what your solution is. Sign-up here if you’re ready to feel better.


Thursday Thought: What am I trying to control outside of me?

Have you ever been told you’re controlling? Do you feel angry even thinking about someone telling you you’re controlling? When someone says to me that I’m being controlling, I start to go into defense mode of how I’m just right. If people would let me control them, it would all be so much better, right?

If you’ve come up against this, I’m sure you’re aware, that we can’t control other people, or how they feel, or how they think, no matter if we think it would be better if we could. The only thing that happens is we’re uptight.

When you feel uptight, ask yourself, “What am I trying to control? Am I trying to control how someone acts, thinks, feels?” Take a deep breath, and bring it in. What do you really have control over? You can control how you think and feel about it/them. You can control how you react. You can control your breathing. You can control your words. Really you have so much control, so you can let go of the control of other people and situations. Isn’t that a relief?

If you want help figuring out how to let go of controlling others, and start controlling what’s going on inside, set up a free mini-session with me here.

Thursday Thought: I don’t have to make it all better

Why do we feel the need to make everyone feel good all of the time? Not everyone feels this, but I think it’s pretty prevalent. What would it be like for you if you were okay with someone not feeling okay? What if you were okay with someone not liking you? What if you just listened to others’ complaints, to your own complaints, and not try to fix it? What would that be like?

The next time someone is upset, or your upset, what if you decided you would just listen to their upset, or feel your own upset? What if you told yourself, “I don’t have to make it all better,”?

Thursday Thought: What empathy and advice would I give my best friend in this exact situation?

Sometimes I’ll go back and read something I wrote and think, “Wow! That’s so helpful!”

When I’m writing blog posts, I’m not thinking of me. I’m thinking of my clients. The ones who feel so lost and are struggling. I don’t feel that way nearly as much as I used to, but I still do sometimes.

I had some time today when I was really struggling. I thought, “I think I wrote a post about this.” I went and read it, and it was really helpful.

I believe we all have wisdom inside of us. Sometimes our brains on auto-pilot get in the way because they are in survival mode. To tap into our wisdom, we have to be very conscious. That’s when we’re using our pre-frontal cortex, or what I like to call our higher brain.

I encourage you to choose an area in your life where you are struggling. Imagine your best friend, whom you love, is going through what you are, instead of you. Have her tell you why everything is so hard. What would you tell her? What empathy would you give, and what advice would you give? You may be amazed at what comes out of your own brain. The answers to your problems are inside of you.

Ask yourself, “What empathy and advice would I give to my best friend in this exact situation?”

Thursday Thought: He Loves Me and I Love Him

Happy Valentine’s Day! Today I wanted to give a thought that may be helpful if you’ve struggled with Valentine’s Day. A lot of marital relationship advice given is to tell each other your needs and then to try to meet each other’s needs. The only problem is that no one can quite meet your needs the way you want them to, even when you tell them exactly what to say or do.

We think we feel loved by our husband when he does something thoughtful, or loving like brings us the perfect gift, writes us a nice note, or says something loving. But has he ever done these things and you still didn’t feel loved? Maybe you had thoughts like, “He just did it because I asked him to.” or “He doesn’t really mean it.”

What if no matter what he did or didn’t do you thought, “He loves me and I love him”? Then how would you feel? I promise, it doesn’t matter what he does or doesn’t say or do. The only thing that will make you feel loved is to think the thought, “He loves me and I love him.” Only thoughts create our emotions, and they’re all optional. You get to believe whatever you want. Tell me how it’s true that he loves you, even if he didn’t get you the perfect gift/date/card/anything.

If you want to feel more love, sign-up for a free mini-session with me to figure out why you’re not feeling loved, or any other emotion you want to feel.


I love that sketch by Jim Gaffigan: 4 Kids. “Do you want to know what it’s like to have a fourth (kid)? Just imagine you’re drowning, and then someone hands you a baby.”

I have two kids, and I’m here to tell you, you don’t have to have 4 kids to feel like you’re drowning. You can have one child and feel like you’re drowning. I used to have these really unhelpful thoughts like, “My mom had 8 kids and she was amazing. I can’t even cut it with only 2.” I think you all know this, but comparison is the killer of joy. I just want to say in this post, if you feel like you’re drowning, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you or your life. You’re just a human having a human experience. The only reason you feel like you’re drowning is because of what you’re believing about you and your life. EVERYTHING you’re believing is optional. You may tell me you have a ton of evidence that it’s true. But pick one thing, turn it around to the opposite and then tell me a reason why that is just as true. It’s there.

If you feel like you’re drowning, send me a message, and I’d love to chat with you. I’m in the middle of writing a program specifically for you. I can help you! You don’t have to feel this way forever. And you don’t have to give up your kids, although you can if you want to. 😉

Seriously, send me a message or sign-up for a free mini-session. It’s like a free sample at Costco. It’s amazing how even just one 30 minute session can help. And I’ll tell you how you can work with me more if you want to know, but you’re more than welcome to just enjoy the help you get from the one mini-session. There IS hope, I promise!

Thursday Thought: They’re just a human doing the best they can with the experiences they’ve had

Are you getting ready to be around family? Are you excited, or nervous, maybe a little of both? Think of that one “difficult” person. How do you want to feel when you’re around them. Do you know why they’re difficult? I’m sure you could give me all of the reasons, but want to know the truth? The only reason they’re difficult is because of your thoughts about them. I know, I know, everyone might agree with you that they’re difficult. But why not you be the one that shows everyone the way of how they’re not difficult, you’ve all just been believing negative thoughts about them?

Want to feel love? Think loving thoughts. One of my favourite thoughts for a difficult person is, “They’re just a human doing the best they can with the experiences they’ve had.” We’re all just humans doing the best we can. Now go and feel some love! It feels amazing!

Thursday Thought: …And It’s Okay

Have you ever felt like you don’t fit in? I think that’s a thought I’ve had a lot of my life. It’s not all of the time, but it’s kind of a go-to thought that hasn’t served me well, and doesn’t feel very good. While getting coached on it, I realized that when I think I don’t fit in, I then decide there must be something wrong with me.

As I was getting coached, I was having a really hard time letting go of the thoughts that I’m different and there might be something wrong with me, so instead of changing it, my coach offered to just add on “…and it’s okay.”

Now when I have that thought come up, I add on “…and it’s okay.” “There might be something wrong with me, and it’s okay.” That thought makes me feel so relieved, instead of sad and desperate. So what if I’m different? So what if there are social skills I could improve on? It’s okay! We’re all different and quirky and have skills in different areas, and it’s okay! It’s nice that we’re not all robots.

What thoughts could you add this onto? Try it, and leave a comment to let me know!

Thursday Thought: Maybe They’re Not Trying To Hurt Me

Mothers-in-law. Sisters-in-law. Husbands. Bosses. Co-workers. They’re so annoying, right? And they think they know more than you, right? And they’re always trying to prove you wrong, and they do everything wrong. And they think differently than you.

Have you ever thought, “Maybe they’re not trying to hurt me.”? or “Maybe they’re not trying to annoy me.”? or “Maybe they’re not trying to be idiotic.”? Seriously? But seriously. They may just be trying to do their best, and maybe it’s not very good, but it’s their best. Try it on. This one is super helpful.

Thursday Thought: It’s Not About Me

I know I’ve done this thought already, but it’s such a good one. I taught a class in church recently. Later that day, I found myself feeling really insecure. The interesting thing is that I thought the lesson went well. I found myself thinking things like, “I wonder if they think that I think I’m better than them.” “I bet they think I didn’t do a very good job.” “I wonder if they think I had too much discussion.” These were not thoughts out of curiosity. They were causing me to feel insecurity and shame. I just allowed the insecurity and shame for awhile. Then I decided I was done. I looked into what thoughts were causing the insecurity and shame (see above :)).

It’s true that some of the people in my class could be having those thoughts. So now what? I reminded myself, “It’s not about me.” I put myself out there in the world. I do my best, which sometimes may not be that great. And then I let others think what they want to about it. They may think thoughts that generate negative emotions, or they may think thoughts that generate positive emotions. Either way, it’s not about me. If they think my lesson was amazing or if they think it flopped, it’s about them and the lens through which they see the world.

This is amazing because instead of trying to control the way anyone may feel or think about me, which isn’t even possible, I get to just be me. I get to love me and appreciate me if I want to, no matter if anyone else agrees. Next week I think I’ll talk about thoughts that generate love and appreciation for myself. Of course, you can use any of them you’d like to.

In what areas is it helpful for you to remind yourself, “It’s not about me,”?