compassion

Sympathy vs. Empathy (and how knowing the difference could save your relationships) Part Four

Picture courtesy of Shutterstock

 

Last week we began examining the seven steps to fostering more empathy, including learning to better identify our own feelings and treating others as they would like to be treated. This week we conclude the series by looking at the last three steps to increasing our empathy, including being more curious and challenging prejudices and finding common ground.

 

Cultivate curiosity

 

When we were little children we were all naturally curious but later in life this curiosity tends to fade. Remember that little child in you and do your best to remain curious and open. Ask people questions and learn about their thoughts, opinions, beliefs and feelings. Seek to understand viewpoints different to your own.

 

Active listening and being open

 

Active listening is when we really focus on listening to others. It involves reading body language, mirroring body language and repeating what the other has said so they feel heard and understood – this approach also gives others the opportunity to correct you if they meant something different to what you thought.

 

Be open and share your own story with others. Let yourself be vulnerable. It will make the person you’re speaking to feel safe in sharing with you in turn.

More

Happy Holidays 2016! How to be a source of light and love all year round and other musings

Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock

Photo Courtesy of Shutterstock

One of the things I like most about the festive season is the generous and loving attitude that it brings. Everyone seems to come together and there is a real feeling of community, an atmosphere of both kindness and compassion.

 

This year lets make one of our new years resolutions to continue in this spirit, looking outward and finding ways to be somebody else’s light when their path is hidden in darkness.

 

For some of you this may be as simple as holding the door open for an elderly woman or letting other cars in when you are driving to work. Whatever this looks like for you, I would encourage you to pursue kindness and compassion with vigour all year round. It is guaranteed to make you happy and your life infinitely more meaningful and rewarding.

 

If you would like to begin this work now, please read on for an opportunity to support a worthwhile cause that does just this…

 

International Justice Mission

 

Photo Courtesy of Shutterwork

Photo Courtesy of Shutterwork

 

International Justice Mission is a global organization that protects the poor from violence throughout the developing world. IJM partners with local authorities to rescue victims of violence, bring criminals to justice, restore survivors, and strengthen justice systems. In nearly 20 communities throughout Africa, Latin America, South Asia and Southeast Asia, IJM combats slavery, sex trafficking, sexual violence, police brutality, property grabbing and other forms of violence.

 

The homes the victims of abuse are placed in are usually equipped to provide the appropriate counseling, health care, education, training and social development to set their clients on the road to healing from the horrific abuse they survived.  These facilities are located in a culture that is familiar to the children, where they are among others who are also healing from similar situations of abuse.

 

IJM provides services and follow up to minors rescued from sexual exploitation from the time they are rescued until they become majors and have completed their aftercare program to ensure that they have been fully restored and can be reintegrated into their communities and can live safe and sustainable lives on their own.

 

To help support this worthwhile cause please donate whatever little you can by clicking on the link below:

 

http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SomeoneSpecial/accessiblepsychology

 

Wishing you a truly blessed festive season,

 

x X x Jenny x X x

What your anxiety reveals about you (and why you need to know)

In recent years I have fought against anxiety as if it were the enemy, only to realize that it was trying to tell me something very important. Maybe I wasn’t ready to hear it, maybe it had to get worse in order for me to pay attention. Recently I’ve learnt that deep down it was trying to tell me that there are parts of my past that haven’t yet healed. Although I’ve come a long way, my anxiety reminds me that I still have a long way to go. That even though I like myself and have forgiven my bullies, the fear of being bullied still remains when I am in the company of new or unfamiliar people.

 

If you think about the times when you were most anxious, what did it surround? Whilst the literal cause of anxiety might relate to something quite specific, the root cause is often something much more generalized. For example, do you get anxious about keeping everyone happy? Is there something unresolved in one of your close relationships and / or do you have a need for all of your relationships to be conflict free? When you were a child did you witness a lot of conflict?

 

For everyone the cause of our anxiety will be different but I would encourage you to delve deeper into the root cause of your anxiety as when you do you may discover your anxiety is trying to show you that you have a deeper issue that needs your attention.

 

Try these three key questions to unravel the message your anxiety might be trying to convey:

 

  • What does my anxiety relate to specifically?
  • What does my anxiety relate to generally?
  • Did I experience what my anxiety relates to generally in the past?

 

Then ask yourself this key question:

 

More

Feeling guilty? How to use guilt to your advantage!

Like anyone I’ve felt guilty from time to time. Interestingly I have a long standing history of confusing guilt for shame. When researching for this month’s series article on self-compassion I had an aha moment when I realized guilt was very different to shame. Shame by its very nature tells us that we are something wrong – a very destructive way of thinking and not helpful at all – whilst guilt signals that we’ve done something wrong, which incentivizes us to make amends and put the situation right. Guilt can also guide us to make better choices, serving as a barometer towards correcting our behavior in future.

 

To tell the difference between guilt and shame ask yourself the following questions, remembering that it is possible to be both guilty and ashamed.

 

  • Am I labeling myself in my head as a direct result of my behavior? (E.g. I’m a failure, I’m horrible, I’m incompetent)
  • Do I feel like I’m a horrible person as a direct result of my behavior?
  • Do I feel like a failure / incompetent / worthless as a direct result of my behavior?
  • Do I feel fatalistic, as if I will always be this way?

 

  • Do I feel a deep sense that I have behaved in the wrong way?
  • Do I feel as though I have made a mistake?
  • Do I feel as though I have used poor judgment?
  • Do I feel that I want to make amends for my behavior?
  • Do I feel bad for the person my behavior has effected?

 

If you answered yes to any of the top four questions you are likely in a state of shame and need to talk through what happened with a trusted and supportive friend who can reassure you that you are not what you may be labeling yourself to be.

 

As Brene Brown says…

 

“If you put shame in a Petri dish it needs three things to grow exponentially, secrecy, silence and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a Petri dish and you douse it with empathy you create an environment that’s hostile to shame.”

 

If you answered yes to any of the last five questions you are probably experiencing guilt. Although uncomfortable, feeling guilty can be a very good thing because it gives you the opportunity to make amends for and correct your behavior. Think about what you can do to make things right and then act on it, remembering that some people will not be receptive to an apology but that the most important thing by far is that you have done everything you can to say sorry and rectify your behavior so that it isn’t repeated.

 

Have you ever felt guilty and did it serve as a motivator to correct your behavior? Can you relate to feeling ashamed and how destructive an emotion it is? I’d love to hear from you so please comment below to gain encouragement, support and insight from our community.