Understanding Empathy

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Finding yourself stuck in a cycle of negativity, or similar arguments with someone you love?

Our relationships can suffer because we minimize one anothers feelings.  Even if doing so was not our intention.  Many of us lack the ability to see another persons perspective.  Often times we are too focused on our own feelings and experiences, that we completely miss the mark.  We miss opportunities to connect with others, because we are being “selfish”, or at least coming across as such.

More and more, I’m noticing that much of what we communicate tends to get lost in translation.  We attack one another simply because we believe we were wronged in some way.  The worst part is that when these messages are misunderstood, many of us fail to gain clarification on the intended message.  As a result, maybe you spend the next day replaying that conversation in your head.  Man, have I been there one too many times! I admit that I have let my imagination run wild, without taking a moment to calm those nasty convos in my head.

Then, when I am able to confront the “issue”, I often learn that I was wrong.  So, realistically I’ve spent an unimaginable amount of time dwelling over things that could have been cleared up if I was able to understand the other’s interpretation without having my feelings block my judgement.

Psychotherapist Cindy Sigal, AMFT (Relationshipshttp://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/06/08/the-power-of-empathy-in-romantic-relationships-how-to-enhance-it/) has a wonderful perspective on how to improve empathy in our relationships.

What is EMPATHY?

Cindy discussed three different types: Cognitive (we don’t lose sight of our feelings).  Here we are able to recognize others feelings without experiencing these same feelings ourselves.

Emotional (sharing feelings with your partner or others). If your hurting, I’m hurting. If you’re angry, I’m angry too.

Compassionate ( a whole person response (changing our own behavior).  With this type, we realize what our partner may be experiencing, and actively alter our behavior to increase positive feelings.  For example, you may know that today wasn’t a good day for the other person.  Instead of adding onto their current stress load, you do something different.  You may say kind words, or pick up their favorite snack.

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In addition to understanding the different types of empathy, it will also be helpful to identifying the Road Blocks from experiencing empathy.

-Getting sucked into our own perspectives (how we are feeling vs our partner): From my experiences with others including what I’ve been through personally, is that many disputes/disagreements occur when you feel the other person isn’t listening, or feel as though they do not care.  Many of us become stuck with defending ourselves when communicating, because for some reason we feel attacked.  What can possibly be resolved if both of you aren’t even attempting to understand the others perspective?  You’d don’t have to agree with them, but this will help you grain clarity.  I’m definitely still a work in progress!

-Focusing on negatives: Can you imagine a lifetime full of complaints, with no motivation to make any positive changes? #exhausting. We all have our days of picking out the “wrongs”, but what about trying to clear a tiny circle off of that filthy mirror from time to time.  This will definitely keep your relationships “stuck” in the helpless zone. Try finding at least one positive for every 3 negatives.  This may be challenging if your thinking has already been shaped by constant negative messages, but your situation is not hopeless. Train yourself to think differently…it’s never too late to learn something new. 🙂

-Treat ourselves how we would treat others: I admit that am not the best example of this.  I allow others the ability to make mistakes, and offer them my best advice and encouraging words.  But, I don’t always allow myself these same luxuries.  Yes, I want to push myself, and learn from past experiences.  How will this be possible if I won’t even give myself the opportunity to reflect on these roadblocks?

I hope that today is a wonderful day for everyone, and we all are able to improve our Empathy!

What contributes to your overall satisfaction in your romantic relationships ( past, present, or future)?

-XOXO

FreeBryd

Photo #1:http://www.canstockphoto.com/

Photo #2: http://www.lifetimeloveaffair.com/

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Inspiration//Make Your Dreams Become Your Reality

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Have you ever felt extremely unproductive before?  Well, that has been the story of my life for the past few days! I am so guilty lol.  I’ve been binge watching a series on Hulu (Devious Maids)! So much drama…but it’s also extremely addicting! This week, I’ve failed to go to the gym or update my blog as often as I’d planned. :-/ Needless to say, I couldn’t help but to realize how easy it is to fall into a comfortable routine, and forget about achieving your dreams.

In the past, I have always dreamed about doing more with my life, but never felt any real sense of urgency when considering the response to this question.  I had absolutely no clue how to begin preparing a life for myself, where my overall level of happiness scored close to a 10 on a Likert scale.

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Should I go back to school? What should I major in? Where will I find a job? So many questions to consider!

Last month I wrote a post specifically to address these concerns (https://freebryd.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/what-i-want-to-do-with-the-rest-of-my-life/).  I became so motivated to take off running with enough energy to run a marathon! I’m still very excited to continue pursuing what I love most: writing, and helping others build healthy relationships.

What I am saying is that I don’t want to lose sight on what I’ve promised myself I’d accomplish within these next few years.  I do worry that I’ll become sucked into the swift current of life, without giving my all to what I’ve planned for myself.  But, I can’t let that happen.  I need to remind myself daily what it is that I want out of life.

At this time, I do not have a vision board that I can refer to like I’ve heard others speak about.  Now I can honestly say that I understand the importance of creating something to this effect.  During these past few days, it was so easy for me to say, “I’ll do it later”, because I did not have anything in place to continuously remind me of my aspirations.  I absolutely need this!

I have a really long-winded way of saying don’t give up.  Don’t give up on your plans, simply because “something comes up”.  It is alright to take a break…but try your best not to lose sight on the bigger picture. Luckily, I have family and friends in my corner who are able to snap me back into reality. But honestly, this is not their responsibility.

I have to want more for myself, and I do.  I just need to find ways to encourage me not to lose sight of this!

Here is what I plan to do:

  • Create a detailed vision board (so I have no questions about what I want my future to look like)
  • Speak about my goals to others (the more I discuss this, the more I will speak this into existence)
  • Make a list of small steps that will help me reach my goals (less overwhelming for me to target smaller tasks first)
  • Listen to the advice I would give to others (not to be so hard on myself…I will make mistakes and have days where I want to give up–>but get back on track asap)

These little gems will help to keep me on the right path. Take a break, go on vacation, binge watch your favorite tv series.  We all need days such as these to help us recharge.  Just remember that sooner or later you’ll need to get back to what you’ve started.

What do you use to help motivate and remind you to continue pursuing your dreams?

~XOXO

FreeBryd

Photo Credit #1: http://jaytheanalyst.com/

Photo Credit#2: http://weightlossandtraining.com/

Photo Credit #3: http://www.in-pharmatechnologist.com/

Inspiration//What’s Holding You Back From Change?

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Annoyed with how someone has been mistreating you?  Not thrilled about your current status of your relationship? These are just a few of many complaints that I have heard, whether personally, or in conversations with others.  I felt compelled to address something that has been heavy on my mind, and hope that I can help provide some guidance to fellow complainers.

Listen, let me just share with you that I’ve complained a lot!  I know that I’m not alone, so don’t judge me too much. I know that communicating what upsets me comes naturally.  I’m sure my sister doesn’t mind haha! But then what?  I share this with others, and go on about my day only to revisit the same complaint the following day?  Sounds crazy…right?  Believe me I know!

Here is a book that has helped shake me out of the deja vu I was constantly experiencing:

Dance of Anger by Harriet Goldhor Lerner, Ph.D.

Originally, this book was assigned to me as a class assignment during my Graduate program. But, I’ve referred back to this book on several occasions.  Don’t get turned off by the description of the book being a “woman’s guide”.  I do not feel as though women are the only individuals who can benefit from this read. This book provides examples of how we complain about our life experiences, but often times do nothing to change the outcome if repeated in the future. In addition, Dance of Anger provides helpful feedback on how to break this cycle to make long-term changes in your interactions with others.

I’ve learned new ways of navigating through all of my complaining, to be able to brainstorm and attempt new solutions. Instead of dreading that conversation with someone (that normally goes sour before you’ve realized what’s happened), instead of feeling hopeless that your current situation won’t improve, try jotting down some possible scenarios to instantly reduce those troubles.  Sounds simple enough, but not many of us are able to think logically when experiencing feelings of anger, hurt, frustration or sadness.

Remember that you’re perfectly capable of impacting change in your life.  Just work on making these changes, INSTEAD of just complaining about them.

~XOXO

FreeBryd