Archive for September, 2018

Empathy

September 23, 2018

Empathy is often confused with sympathy. Sympathy is more the ability to share or communicate others feelings. While empathy is the deep ability to understand and communicate someone’s feelings as if they were your own, but not. For me empathy is the deeper of the two as it lets the other know that you hear them and have a connection to the hurt they are in that particular moment experiencing.

I often tell couples who are in crises due to a betrayal that apologies are important but only go so far as to healing the pain. The work we do once the apology has been acknowledged is to have the betrayer express empathy as to what his/her partner may be suffering from the pictures in their mind around the betrayal. As this occurs, it allows two things to be accomplished, one: the injured party hears that there is true understanding of the profound pain suffered by their acting out, and two: if the person who acted out can truly empathize with the hurt caused, the likelihood of their doing it again is diminished. Additionally, when one realizes the extent of the hurt caused to someone you care for/love, you truly get that you don’t ever want to cause them that kind of pain again. From this vantage point true healing can commence if both are committed to it.

When offering empathy, it is a deep, engendering closeness to the person you are offering it to. Sympathy just doesn’t have this intensity or the sincerity for me that empathy does. The depth of wanting to connect and let the other person know that you care about them, while having their backs is connoted much more with empathy. I also believe that the person you care about for whom you are offering empathy feels your concern for them, and therefore feels less alone. It is a wonderful feeling to know that  someone is right there with your emotions and holds them in a non judgemental, unconditionally loving space.

Empathy has the ability to allow one to feel attended to, heard, honored, cared for, appreciated, not alone, closer to, and more deeply connected to by the person offering the empathy. It is a vital part of being in relationship and growing with someone. It is the juice that deepens and strengthens our attachments. Thus bringing to each, a sense of safety and security within their connection.

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Friendship

September 14, 2018

All too often, I hear people saying they have tons of friends. This always concerns me because in my world it means they believe that almost anyone they engage with is a friend. I tell my patients that real friends along with your spouse or partner is essential to life and includes typically no more than three to five people. These three to five people include those who: always have your back, hold your confidences, you can say anything to and not be judged, are always there, and have unconditional regard for you. Now this inner sanctum, as I call it, is the essence of true friendships. Others are either casual friends, who like you have similar interests and you can go “do” things with. Things like hiking, talking about current events, going to movies with, and enjoying foods and wines with. All others are strangers.

The inner sanctum, are the core of your existence and are where the riches of life can be found. It is here that you know where you stand, and can get the honest feedback one needs at various times of life. Now often, patients will say it hard to find these quality people. I agree. Even though there are three hundred million people in the U.S. alone, and tough it doesn’t sound so ominous, it still is. Looking for and finding quality though difficult, is always worth the hunt. Most people agree, and when I offer these parameters of what real friendship looks like, most realize they have at least one. Now these people don’t have to live down the block. It certainly helps, but with social media, skype, and travel it is not too hard to stay connected. But the reason three to five true friends is about all you can handle is because with family, and work and all that life asks of us, it is hard to maintain this quality of relationship throughout life with too many more.

One of the real difficulties is for men more than women. Men are socialized to believe that other men are only to be interacted with through competition. The vulnerability that is required to have a real friend as I describe it, is just too dangerous for most. I truly get this and it is this socialization that limits men from having the support they need and deserve. Most men have very little idea how to commence, attend, and maintain such a relationship. And yet it is imperative that men have such supports to go to.

The other misnomer connected to friendships is that people hold a double standard as to how to allow friends to support them. Many will tell me that if a friend needs them of course they would be there. BUT, if they themselves need support, it would just be burdening others, which just wouldn’t be right. I say to them, let me get this straight, if your friend came to you in need you would tell them they are burdening you? And when they do come to you and you are there for them, it doesn’t feel good? The answers are always no to the first question, and yes it feels good to the second. I then say, you are not burdening a true friend as they aren’t burdening you. AND, if you don’t let them be there for you, you are depriving them of that good feeling of being a true friend. This usually gets them thinking.

The inner sanctum of true friends is the richness of life. It allows us to feel truly connected and loved. This is an important aspect of being human and relating to others without feeling like you live in some kind of dark hole or abyss. When people are depressed or even suicidal (see my blog about Why Suicide?) it is more because of a lack of this connection.

Compassion

September 4, 2018

Compassion is the third companion to truth and humility, which I have blogged about. These three musketeers are the antitheses to the ego. They reduce the ego due to their deep humanity and lack of esteem triggers that so often get us into trouble.

Compassion is the heartfelt entity that feels deeply for others, while understanding and relating on a truly human level. When we are compassionate we step back from judgment and shame. We don’t look with the comparing eyes of the need to one up someone or hurt them for our own self interest. Rather, we step into our hearts where caring, concern, pathos, and empathy live. It is from here that we relate to another though communicating nothing but the deep felt interest of sincere love. It is from here that our very essence is felt and offered, and received in a similar manner due to its honest resonance.

Compassion in its true form sees the ever present weight of the world. Walking compassionately on your way to anywhere, one feels the sadness or the hurt that so many are inflicted with. You can feel it in the energetic field around you and in that you can’t heal every wound you come across, you must just bless it and move on. Praying that the Universe will allow those in pain to find healing. Those who empath this worldly hurt, can get hurt themselves by absorbing like osmosis the toxic energy they experience. Needless to say, this is very unhealthy and does nothing to solve the issues of those who pass by. Again, that is why you must offer them God’s speed and move on.

Compassion is a state of grace that not only can be held for others, but for ourselves as well. I tell those I work with, that self compassion is the way to move beyond self sabotage. That the learned personality believes it is normal to denigrate oneself and incite inner wounds. To move away from this, we must evoke self compassion. We must engender a new found mindfulness in which we begin to let ourself off that learned hook of shame and judgment. As we develop this habit of self compassion, we can get out of our way, and allow our authentic and more empowered self to shine.

As we learn to hold self compassion for our humanness, we begin to expand our ability to hold compassion for others. It does not mean we heal all that is wrong in and around us, but it does allow us to walk with an open and caring heart. This perspective will be felt by others, and will add to the heartfeltness in the world we walk in.