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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Woman 2 Women//Where is the Love?

Let’s have an honest discussion friends!
I’ve been spending so much time trying to better myself, by learning to forgive, reminding myself to think more positively, etc.  With that being said, can you tell that I spend a great deal of time in my feelings lol?  A serious question parked itself in my overactive brain, until I decided to do more research into this.  I was able to reach out to a few of my followers, to gain their perspectives on why they believe many women are unable to from long-term and meaningful relationships with one another.
Where does this come from? Why?

I have always played around with this topic individually up until now.  I only brought up this sensitive topic, based solely from my recent encounters with other women.

Like I mentioned before, I followed up with my hypothesis by reaching out to other women.  I would love to have additional perspectives from men as well.  So, don’t be shy with sharing your thoughts on this discussion. Today, I have included two interviews with this blog post.  Here are the results.


Response from Tiffany: a 20 something year old female, eager to share her thoughts! 
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Do you think that women experience difficulty with supporting/having positive thoughts of one another? 

I have been fortunate enough to have limited experiences with unsupportive women.  However, I do feel that this does exist as I have had a few run-ins where either women or myself were catty to one another for some reason or another.  I think it’s hard for some women to see other women succeed, especially when they feel that they are equally as deserving (if not more) of that same success or perceived happiness.

What do you think is the main reason why many women have been unable to form genuine and long-term relationships with one another? 

 I call it the “Mean Girl” syndrome and I believe it’s caused by immaturity and insecurity. In general, I feel that insecure people (not just women) are intimidated by other people who may have things that they lack.  In some cases, it’s hard for women to establish and maintain genuine relationships because of these negative personal issues they may be dealing with.  I also think the media has played into this woman vs. woman war.  Think about it, there are about 10 – 15 well-known reality shows that star and cater to our demographic (young women ages 18-40).

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How many of these are positive reinforcements of women empowerment? While some shows have glimpses of women supporting each other, the overall message is that women are against each other, and not able to maintain stable and positive friendships with other women. What you consume is what you eventually project.  If all you see every day is women fighting women, women ending friendships and being catty and petty, it’s only a matter of time before you start to take on that mindset whether you realize it or not.

bravo-renews-housewives-o-c-and-othersDo you think that you have trouble with being supportive/being non-judgmental most of the time to other women? 

To be honest, I don’t think I have an issue with being supportive of anyone, especially women.  I’m completely about Girl Power, I LOVE seeing women uplifting and inspiring other women.  There is so much for all of us to learn from one another so it’s saddening when we do the opposite. Now, on the flip side, I feel like I am quick to give a side eye and I know I am judgmental even though I try not to be.  It’s unfair, but it is something that I understand is a human trait.

What would be your advice to other women to help address this issue?

I think that understanding ourselves and exploring our own insecurities are the first steps to addressing this issue. No one is perfect, and the more we realize this within ourselves, I feel we can be less judgmental. It also helps us to accept one another for who we are.  This will in turn help us to nurture positive friendships and we can truly be supportive.

Response from Ms. Anonymous: a 30 something year old female, who agrees this is a problem! 

Do you think that women experience difficulty with supporting/having many positive thoughts of one another? 

I guess it depends on the relationship. I wouldn’t just support a random stranger. If I felt some kind of connection to the individual, then yes I would support. But not just a random stranger.

What do you think is the main reason why many women have been unable to form genuine and long-term relationships with one another? 


I do believe this is a problem for women. Women are in constant, subconscious competition with one another (financial, romantic, beauty, etc). Especially if there’s a differences in classes or social status.   I think a woman is more likely to “hate on” another woman if she feels less than. “She thinks she’s cute” comes to mind. I face this problem at work. I’m a similar age to those I work with. Most of the women don’t like me! They feel that I think I’m better than them. But they do not respond to men in the same way.

Do you think that you have trouble with being supportive/being non-judgmental most of the time to other women?

As far as friendships, I think it’s hard because….um….it may be hard to find women who are the “same” or similar lifestyles/interests. There’s a formula to friendship that has to be just right in order for friendships between women to be successful. Just being introspective, all of my friends are either childhood friends or other career driven women. I tend to prefer my career driven friends over my childhood ones. One friend I’ve known for many years.  When she had kids and I didn’t we drifted apart. We didn’t have similar interests and we couldn’t connect like we used to. I have another friend who is slightly older with kids. We were friends before I had any children, and hung out when she had free time. We connected on a professional level. And now I have kids and we connect on that too.  Another friend of mine is also slightly older with a kid. Not career driven. Different interests than me. I tried and couldn’t maintain a successful friendship. So yeah, the formula has to be just right in order for friendships to work…for me anyways.

What do you think is the main reason why many women have been unable to form genuine and long-term relationships with one another? 

For me it was easier to supper once I became secure with who I am. I know who I am and what I want out of life. So it’s easier for me to support other women…as long as they aren’t trying to knock me off my path. I kind of see things differently now. I see that all women are just trying to do the best they can for themselves and/or family. I guess it comes with confidence. Other than my tummy (ugh) and natural hair edges, this is the most genuinely confident I’ve ever been. So I don’t see other women as a threat.

*End of Interviews*

My goal is to promote “girl power” as Tiffany suggested earlier.  I first have to believe things can get better, so I will.  I’ve had so many great experiences with getting to really know, love and value each of my friendships with other women. Those who I’ve known since playing house in elementary school, my siblings, my girls who first introduced me to club hopping, my goons who I’ve met in grad school, to those I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with in my adult life. I appreciate all of you! I realize that your circle becomes smaller as time goes on, and life takes you in unexpected directions.  I just wish that we were still able to remain open to meeting new people, without the pressure of believing that they won’t like you anyway, so don’t even bother.  Ok..this may be extreme, but sometimes I feel this way.  I can’t force someone to get to know me, but a girl can hope for a better tomorrow, and hope for change.

How many others are out there who share these views?  I’m also quick to place judgment onto others.  I have feared that my judgments have prevented me from getting to know some pretty amazing women. What am I doing to give off the vibe that I’m unapproachable?  Did I look at someone wrong?  Where is the Love?
Let me know what some of your experiences have been!
~XOXO
FreeBryd
A look at some of my lovelies ❤
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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