Expressing Empathy

When my kids were young I just wanted them to be happy. When they were crying, agitated or sad, I immediately attempted to fix whatever was troubling them. I scrambled to change their focus and turn their attention to something positive. I would reassure them that everything will be better soon and it will all turn out okay. In fact even now as a parent of adult children, I still struggle with wanting to fix their problem.

There is nothing wrong with the desire to bring relief to someone who is suffering. It’s a natural response. However, insisting that a person come out of their immediate experience and into the one you believe they ‘should’ be having can be more damaging than helpful. Remember, “fixing” has a lot to do with what remains uncomfortable within YOU. You can’t keep your child or anyone else from being upset. Continue reading “Expressing Empathy”

The Optimistic Pessimist

My father loved to tell a story of the two twin brothers. One was a pessimist, the other an optimist. On their ninth birthday, the father led the pessimist son out to the backyard and presented him with a beautiful pony. The boy fretted, “What if I fall off and hurt myself!”

The father went to the optimist son and led him to a room. When the boy looked inside the room, he found a pile of manure. Delighted, he exclaimed, “Oh boy! Underneath all this manure, there must be a pony!”

How do you explain the events in your life? The lesson here is that it makes a difference how you respond to whatever life presents you. To cope with the unpredictability of life, some of us think optimistically. A positive mental attitude empowers you to be aligned with your goals, values, and dreams. For others, with a pessimistic mindset they think of what did or might go wrong and only consider the downside. In both cases, the optimistic and pessimistic mindset is the driving force to protect against future disappointment or hurt. Continue reading “The Optimistic Pessimist”

Mistaking Forward

Oftentimes, making mistakes sets us back or discourages us. Embarrassment, shame, or diminished self-confidence sets in. In order to defend our self, we begin making excuses, rationalizing our conflicting behavior or become self-justifying.

Mistaking forward allows us to become aware of our mistaken behaviors, realize what we are intending to accomplish, and to then, direct our thoughts and manage our feelings productively. In order to reach our intended outcome, it has everything to do with choosing each moment where we focus our attention and how we move from our intention into purposeful action.

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Let Your Self Shine

The other night in preparing for my youngest son’s wedding, we sat looking at old family pictures in my living room.  After my son left, I went outside to reflect on my feelings.  Looking back at the pictures, I was overcome by my beauty, but also a bit saddened by the fact that I didn’t feel attractive internally as a young girl. Then I felt a surge of gratefulness for my life and the lessons I’ve learned. I am no longer compelled to hold onto the emotional influence of my past and when it does surface, I am able to manage it. I’ve come to an age where I know real fulfillment comes from self- acceptance, from daring to be just as you are and expressing it. The sooner we are aware of our reactions the sooner we can find balance.

To grow and expand as a person of strength, we need to validate our feelings, fears, and struggles that we had. Understanding is the key to balancing and managing the experience of who we are. It’s a worthy endeavor to be familiar with those precious wonder children!

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Being Rattled

“If someone comes along and shoots an arrow  into your heart,  it’s fruitless to stand there and yell at the person.  It would be much better to turn your attention to the fact that there’s an arrow  in your heart…” Pema Chodron

Have you ever had someone talk AT you?

Thinking
Words coming at you!
There are times when people harbor frustration, then, without warning they harshly express what’s on their mind.  Their fighting words can catch you off-guard and ignite a rattled feeling.  It strikes an inner-core of familiar yet uncomfortable feelings; feelings of unworthiness or helplessness.
When you aren’t prepared for this type of criticism,  you instinctively react to protect yourself. Either you get agitated and verbally retaliate, or the opposite can happen–feeling hurt and overpowered, you respond with silence.

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Listen to Your Discontent

“Discontent is the first necessity of progress.” 
Thomas Edison
 

Don’t let discontent linger for too long! 

Muhammad Ali said, “Often it isn’t the mountains ahead that wear you out, it’s the pebble in your shoe.”  Imagine you are walking down a pathway enjoying the beautiful scenery. At some point along the way, a little pebble gets in your shoe. After walking a few feet you realize it has become very uncomfortable. In order to continue your walk untroubled, you decide to stop a moment to remove the aggravating pebble. The discomfort was your signal to pause and adjust yourself. When you listen to your feelings of discontent, “your unhappy can make you a little bit wiser”.
Some people pay attention to that gnawing feeling, which then, motivates them to do something different about their situation. At the same time, some people get stuck in discontent. They may feel it’s a comfort zone because it’s familiar, but in reality, it’s not very comforting.
In addition, there are people that are discontent and choose to let it be acceptable. For instance, discontent with their work might feel acceptable because they have to earn an income to pay for their standard of living. Or, perhaps they are in a time-invested relationship, and they accept the discontent in order to wait for things to settle, pass over, or eventually get resolved. In these ways, they choose to learn to manage the discontent by accepting the obligation or commitment. However, the feeling of frustration, sadness or boredom is still calling for their attention to evaluate the situation.
Discontent can provide a reason to stay right where you are, or it nudges you to do something different. Remember, when you move away from the familiar, it  takes some courage to adapt.  This is when you need to rally your strengths, discover meaning and what fulfills your aliveness.
Take a step back. Listen.  If the discontent could speak, what would it say?

Moving Past Disappointment

Whatever path we are on in our life, along the way, we are bound to encounter disappointment. An old proverb says, “Every path has its puddle.”  In life, disappointments are bound to happen. It’s natural to have expectations of ourselves, and the people and situations in our lives. Unfortunately, when we rely too heavily on the expectations, and they become especially meaningful, the resulting disappointment can overwhelm us.

We become so focused on our desired outcome that we lose our footing and get caught feeling ill-equipped when it doesn’t happen.

Disappointment makes us feel that we failed somehow, and we are left disillusioned.  In disappointment, we feel at a loss of an idea of ourselves and what would be. We were expecting to arrive at an intended destination and when that doesn’t happen we begin to question ourselves, our abilities, and our worth.  As a result, we need to regain our balance.

How do we ease our disappointment? How do we sustain ourselves through let-down?

Continue reading “Moving Past Disappointment”