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: How do I choose to think about that time of my life?

I tend to think about my life in chunks of experiences. There were my childhood years, my teenage years, my years in university, my time on my mission, my working years, my time being married without kids, my time being married with kids at home. What chunks of time do you break your life into? What do you think about these different periods of time in your life?

Some ways I think about these different times in my life are: That was a really hard time in my life. I had a happy childhood. I was more spiritual then. I thought I was doing well, but really I didn’t realize what was really going on.

Did you know that everything you think about these times of your life are optional? AND the way you think about different experiences or times of your life can be helpful or hindering?

For example, if you think, “That was a really hard time in my life.” That could give you a feeling of accomplishment, or it could give you a feeling that something is wrong with you.

Think about how you want to think about different experiences you’ve had. Does it make you feel shame, broken, unaccomplished, unmotivated? Or does it make you feel proud, humble, grateful, empowered?

As always, if you want help exploring how you’re viewing your past, sign-up for a free coaching session. I will help you see how the way you view your past is helping your hindering you, and how frame it all so that it will help you get to where you want to be.

 

 

Life is Just Creating With A Toddler

I feel like my brain is expanding more and more about how we create EVERYTHING in our lives. Most often we don’t get to choose the materials we create with. I’m imagining sitting in a the living room with a toddler. We’ve been given the same materials to create with. The toddler is mostly making a mess, and every now and then gets something simple that looks alright.

I’m next to the toddler trying to create what I “should”. Sometimes I look at the mess the toddler is making and kind of give up working on my creation. What’s the use? I can’t get the toddler under control, and her stuff is making my stuff not look the way it “should”.

Sometimes I scold the toddler about how bad of a job she’s doing. When people come to see what I’m creating, I try to hide the mess the toddler is making. I try to keep it short and not let them get too close to see all of the mess.

I think that I should be able to control the toddler. I think there shouldn’t be a mess. It should just be my creation.

Sometimes I look at the materials someone else was given and think, “If I had the materials they were given I could do a better job.”

Sometimes it looks like their toddler isn’t making any mess. Some people have really rambunctious toddlers and I judge them, thinking, “You should really keep your toddler under control, then you wouldn’t have such a big mess.” I think I could handle their toddler better than they are, or that I could do better than they are with the materials they have.

The materials we are given are our circumstances. The toddler is our primitive brain. We are our higher brain.

We spend SO much time just wishing we could have different materials, circumstances. We spend so much time wishing we didn’t have a toddler, primitive brain, to work with. We spend so much energy judging our mess, judging our neighbour’s mess.

How much better would we feel, how much more would we create, if we stopped focusing on the mess and focused on the creation in front of us? How much better would we feel if we stopped wishing we had different circumstances to work with and just got to creating with what we had? What if we stopped asking outside of us what we “should” create, and thought about what we WANT to create?

I have this strong belief that if we all just created what we could with what we had our lives would be amazing, and we would all enrich each other. But sometimes we’re just so focused on the mess, or we’re so afraid of what others will think of our creation, that we create small, or we don’t create what we love.

What do you want to create? Sign-up for a free mini-session with me, and I’ll give you a powerful tool to help you on your way.

 

How to Improve Any Relationship

I’ve talked about The Manual before and the gist is that we all have detailed instructions for how we think other people in our lives should act and be and feel. The problem is the people in our lives don’t have copies of these manuals, and even if they did, they wouldn’t follow them because it’s like trying to get a refrigerator to be a microwave. It could probably do a few of the same things, but it’s a refrigerator not a microwave.

Today when I was writing down my manual for someone else, so I could take a look at it, I realized that the main problem in that relationship was my manual for myself in that relationship. Did you know we also have manuals for ourselves? What? Well, of course we would follow our own manuals, right?

If we’ve never really sat down and written out our manuals, we don’t really know what’s in them. I had things in my manual like, “I should be calm all of the time.” “I should want to hang out with everyone who wants to hang out with me.” “I should never disappoint my husband.”

Obviously, those instructions aren’t helpful, realistic, or even healthy. What’s in your manual? Write down 10 things right now. Then for each one ask yourself how it makes you feel. Is it useful?

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!

We’re All Painting The Same Picture Differently

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt inadequate in some area of your life. It’s very common for us to look around at what other people are doing, and then use that to decide if we’re doing okay at what we’re doing.

Take motherhood, for example. How do you know if you’re doing it right? We want to look at what other people are doing to decide if we’re “doing it right”.

Imagine you’re in an art class. Everyone is painting the same thing, but they all look different from each other. Why is that? Because we’re all different. We can do the same thing, but it will have our own personality in it. How do you know which painting is done the “right” way?

As with the painting and motherhood, you get to choose what your right way is. The way you do it is going to have your personality in it, so it’s never going to look exactly the same as someone else. But it doesn’t mean it isn’t just as beautiful. It’s just different.

I also like to remind myself that it’s a work in progress. This paint never dries.

In what ways do you want to change your painting? What do you like about the way you paint?

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: It’s Okay To Feel This Way

We receive messages everywhere telling us that we should always feel good. We can get the idea that it’s wrong to feel a certain way, or even that there’s something wrong with us to feel a certain. But the only reason we feel an emotion is because of a thought we’re having, and subconsciously or consciously we’re believing.

When I start to worry that there’s something wrong with me, or that I have done something wrong to feel the way I’m feeling, I like to remind myself: It’s okay to feel discouraged. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. It’s okay to feel angry. It’s okay to feel judgmental. It’s not harmful. I can just feel it. It may not be a helpful emotion, which I can figure out later, but for now it’s okay to just process it. It doesn’t mean I’m doing anything wrong, or that there’s something wrong with me.

Breathe. Feel.

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.

Where’s Your Focus? (Movies Part 2)

When I’m having thoughts that make my life seem bleak, sometimes I like to pretend I’m in a movie. I love those movies of Ireland where they show the country side, or an old worn down castle and play beautiful music in the background. It’s all so romantic to me. We moved to Ontario about 7 years ago. I waffle between loving it and not loving it. This may sound weird, but one of the things that was hard to get used to is that there are growing things EVERYWHERE. I grew up in the desert, so if you wanted a plant, you had to plant it and take care of it or it would dry up. In Ontario, plants grow whether you want them to or not (unless they’re in my house, then they die ;)). I felt like nature was taking me over. Then one day I was driving down the road and there was a beautiful sunset in front of me, and I noticed the beautiful trees and plants and open space in front of me. I realized it was the kind of picturesque view they would show in a movie. However, in the movie they wouldn’t show the construction, and roads, and power lines around. They’d just show the beautiful part. Ever since then I can’t drive down that road without thinking about how I love having such a beautiful space so close to my house. I had missed it for several years because I focused on the less beautiful things around.