Empathy

Updated: March 3, 2017
Google says:
em·pa·thy
ˈempəTHē/
noun

the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

It might be believed that a person is born with the ability to have empathy. I believe it can be learned. It might take extra time or effort, however.

To me, the definition of empathy is to take the time to pretend you are in the other person’s situation and validate their experience.

It doesn’t mean I have to agree or share their perspective but I try to put aside my own bias and try to see it their way.

I’ve used the following questions to help me achieve that perspective:

  • How would I feel it that happened to me?
  • What do I think I would do in that situation?
  • What situation have I experienced that is close? How did it make me feel?
  • Why do I agree/disagree with how they are reacting/their opinion?

I’ve observed that I most often react to a trigger; a trigger to something painful in my past, and experience a range of emotions. I then think everyone should view the situation as I do. I mean, my solution is just common sense!! But. I’ve observed that each person will see situations differently depending on their own hurts. Take for example, witnesses of an accident, each person had a different view of what happened. No one story is wrong; it’s just not complete. Or the story of a group of blind men touching a different part of an elephant and only that part of the elephant. They come together to try to decide what it was but they all disagree.

I might never see the whole elephant or be convinced it’s an elephant. I realize I can’t completely understand another’s view/situation/opinion but I can allow space for them to think/feel/decide that way.

Update: A friend shared this video with me after I posted my thoughts. I wanted to add it because it’s a great representation of what I am trying to say.

 

 

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Discover Challenge: Animal

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Jack Sparrow

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Oreo

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Peppermint

Furbabies. Each with an unique personality.

Jack Sparrow is the youngest and my favorite. He was rescued from a busy highway at 4 weeks old (for the full story click here). He’s my favorite because he’s my baby, my angel, my fighter. He’s a daredevil and a troublemaker by day (he even “talks back” when you say “No, sir” to jumping on the counter). He’s a lover and a snuggler by night. I get many kisses from him. He only purrs when snuggling in bed, and drools as he purrs. His tail flips when you say his name or “I love you.”

Peppermint is the “Princess” and middle “child.” She’s dainty and sweet. She purrs as soon as you pet her. She only snuggles during the cold season and is stubborn if you try to move her, going completely limp. She has a sassy side and can give you the “I-don’t-think-so” look. Unfortunately, she has learned many of Jack’s undesirable traits, like being on the counter. When she wants to be fed, she’ll either run across you in the morning or stare you down until you stand up and move toward the cabinet with the food. She’s pretty and knows it.

Oreo is the oldest. She’s been our baby for 9 years. We still call her “Puppy” or sometimes “Baby Girl.” We’ve done a lot to keep her healthy and comfortable. Being a purebred cocker spaniel has it’s challenges. Ear and skin problems being #1 and #2. She had ear surgery to remove polyps and ear rinses every week since. She also gets a homemade diet of turkey, apples/celery/carrots/peas, oatmeal supplemented with Missing Link formula for canines. No more ear problems!! Skin is another story and one that doesn’t have a treatment, yet. She’s showing her age around her face with lots of gray hair. She can’t stand to be alone and cries when we leave. She is my shadow and has to be in the same room when I’m home. She’s horrible at fetch because she won’t bring the ball back. She’s not interested in toys but loves sleeping in her crate.

via Discover Challenge: Animal

The Top 3 Things I Want My Yoga Students To Know

There are a few things that I find myself repeating to people interested in yoga or to new students. The first thing people say to me is “I’m not flexible.” My answer to that is you don’t have to be flexible, it’s about becoming flexible. Closely related to that is “I can’t do ____ (fill in with any yoga pose).” Again, it’s not about that. I choose not to do a lot of the “tricky” poses for reasons that will be discussed later. Lastly, I hear that the teacher had them do something they didn’t like or that hurt. My response is that you don’t have to do every single pose the teacher offers. It’s your body and your practice; you know what you are comfortable doing. I tell my students they don’t get extra points for doing everything I say, except when it comes to safe alignment; outside of that, take care of your own body.

Yoga is a lifestyle practice that has been around for many, many years. There is great wisdom behind the philosophy that is not learned overnight. I do my best to explain my experience below based on my current understanding of what I have learned as I continue to study yoga.

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Photo courtesy of Chicks with Cameras

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Genetic Counseling: Down Syndrome Awareness

I am taking part of an online course through University of South Carolina for future genetic counselors. Part of being a genetic counselor is being an advocate, creating awareness, and educating others about genetic conditions and that’s what I intend to do, starting now. One of the website reviews for the week about prenatal genetics was a website dedicated to supporting families with a Down Syndrome diagnosis. I have been fortunate in my life to have not been sheltered from conditions like this and lately I have realized I’m a minority. As I work through this course, I’ll share awareness, keeping with my theme of “learn, experience and share.” In honor of National Down Syndrome month (October) I’m sharing my review of the website downsyndromepregnancy.org. If you chose not to read the whole post, the one take-away I want to leave you with to stop using the word “retard(ed)” to describe anyone or anything. Thank you!

image courtesy of sbdsa.org

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Keeping it Real: blogging

I haven’t written for awhile. At least nothing personal. I’ve thought about. I have lots of ideas. And that’s where it stops. I pull up the web browser (do we even still use that term anymore?). I log in. I type. Delete. Type again. Delete. Fingers type. Save as a draft. I have 3 posts in draft. I just can’t get them to come together.

I’m not depressed. It’s not depression that’s keeping me from writing. Continue reading