Thursday, April 14

Empathy: A Doorway to Stronger Connection (plus more questions from the innkeeper)

       Did you know it's usually not the best idea, sympathizing with a person who's struggling or depressed?  You didn't expect this friendly writer to say that, did you?   I've learned awhile back, that usually, the best thing I can offer a distressed person, is empathy. What's the difference?   It's the difference between somewhat connecting with that person, when using sympathy, versus a strong, more sensitive connection with that individual when I empathize.

     When I'm with someone who's going out of their mind with anxiety, depression, or any other negative emotion, the last thing they need is sympathy from me.  (This post is not going in the direction where you may think it is.  I'm not suggesting that we ask others to tough it out, like John Wayne.) When I sympathize with another, I'm sharing my story, how I relate with their problem, their issue. I'm prone to say something like:

"I know I was really mad, when something like that happened to me....."

     The problem with this approach is that this statement's focus is on me. That's not what the upset person needs. I find empathy is preferred, especially if they are emotionally fragile.

     I usually use the following way of connecting with the troubled person:

      "Are you frustrated that the results you expected did not pan out? 
        I know you really hoped for a better outcome." 

     I'm just giving one scenario, demonstrating empathy, but I think you get the idea. The focus is on them, and them alone. I get out of the way.  The don't need a story about me.  I believe when we give of ourselves to others, we, in turn, receive. I don't count on it, nor is it my motive, and the results may not be immediate.

         "Cast your bread upon the waters and
            in many days it shall return to you."
                                              Ecc. 11:1.

      We'll enjoy a song in our heart when we partake in supportive, caring fellowship. We'll find ourselves with an attitude of gratitude: one of the deepest joys is connecting with family, friends, co-workers and others in a meaningful, empathic way.


 Welcome to the reader from Malaysia.  Thank you for dropping by several times this week!

Kelly, welcome to the Attitude of Grattitude Inn. What are you doing to encourage yourself?
PCF, you've my prayers as you are about to embark on a new journey this summer. You've my support. When we visit, your wisdom and grace impresses me. I want to be like you when I grow up. Please let me know how I can support you.
Phyllis, thanks for posting your gratitudes. I enjoy our correspondence and I'm happy to hear about the success you're enjoying regarding your goals. Has your walking buddy dropped weight? By the way, what's her name?

    By the way, please continue sharing your gratitudes: you're investing in yourself.  It's hard to be frustrated with self or others if you have an attitude of thanksgiving.

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Quotes from the Posts

"I'm mindful that our thoughts affect the words we use, our words influence our actions, our actions shape our character and our character determines our destiny."

From "My Character Determines My Destiny." To read it, please click here.

"Progress not perfection, is better than no progress at all, especially when we're trying to rid ourselves from unwelcome dragons that dwell within the closets of our soul."

From, "Still Learning" which, within four days, became the most popular post
written. To read it, please click here.

"Worry does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, but it does empty today of its strength"
From the post: "Life Is Not a Correspondence Program." Click here to read it.

"Even though we cannot control our circumstances, we can control how we choose to respond to them."

From, "Handling Stress and Dealing With an Emotional Bully."Click here to read this post.

"Nope, being busy isn't exciting. Boring is good. Because boring is not boring; boring is being healthy, living a balanced life that has serenity"

From: "Do You Know What It Means If You Are Too Busy?" For more, please click here.