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Empathy: The Gift of Presence


Who said communication requires a language?
Who said communication requires a language? (Photo credit: Vineet Radhakrishnan)

No, I am not speaking of how one might walk into a room and manage to turn heads. Although I am an expert at that darlings.I’m talking about the act of being present. Not present, like at the same dinner table, or in the same room occupied by screen time.

Presence – the act of being fully engaged and empathetic in the presence of another human being. Yah, don’t bother trying to wiki that folks. It’s my own definition, but it’s a damn good one.

I’m all about motivation, inspiration, and creating your own luck. I’m also all about being real, getting to the heart of things, and zenning out.

Every once in a while I am also all about losing my temper, being totally annoyed, and tired of always being the better person. After all, everyone should be trying to be the better person. Right?

During the holiday season, our ability to be present is tested by the limits of time, money, and patience. Friends who suffer loss, depression, or anxiety don’t often get the support they need.

Unlike an illness, surgery or politically correct diagnosis, grief, loss, depression/anxiety and mourning are a lot more slippery to deal with.  Not everyone loves the holidays, as a matter of fact, it can be a season of profound lonliness.

You don’t have to bake anything, make anything, buy a card or a gift to be present. You just have to be present. Allow yourself the freedom to do nothing. Yes, that’s right  do nothing. Ok, you can make them a cup of tea or fluff a pillow if necessary, whatever you do,  just try to empathize.

Empathy is not sympathy, and I’m not your fifth grade English teacher, so go look that up if you must.

Empathizing is accepting another person’s emotional reaction to what they are experiencing. You may not experience the events in the same way, or with the same emotions. That doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you listen. You don’t have to agree or disagree, you don’t have to problem solve or make a plan.

If you can be truly present for someone who needs you this holiday season, you will know the true spirit of Christmas, and the deep satisfaction that comes from  friendship.

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Spiritual Hip-Waders

angry_woman (Photo credit: Floyd Brown)

You be the judge, or perhaps maybe not.

Maybe you might like to step back, take a breath, and lend a hand instead of tearing someone down with your judgmental old self.

It’s easier said than done, right? It’s easy to be caught up in the moment and react. Yah, I get it.

Being present, being compassionate, being empathetic; None of these ways of being are actually something many of us cultivate on a day-to-day basis. You know, with other real people, not just philosophy books, or quirky memes, or when we’re in a good mood.

It’s a constant struggle for balance between keeping firm personal boundaries and benevolence.

One thing I’ve noticed throughout my life is that the folks first to judge are the least likely to actually ‘do’, least likely to stop complaining and take risks to make a difference.

In other words, they have a shallow pool of spiritual awareness and like to baptize us all with their egos instead of donning a pair of spiritual hip waders to explore the fertile, magic, muck of their own humanity.

We all fall short sometimes and we know it. Trust me kittens, the last thing anyone needs is to be kicked when they’re down. In other words, if you don’t have anything kind so say, keep your cake-hole busy biting your tongue.

Some folks need to be needed. It’s misplaced ego stroking at best, and just because you’re happy to be open to the needs of others without needing to be a martyr, don’t let their martyr mentality shadow your own strength and independence.

For anyone struggling with constant critics, poisonous environments or abusive relationships of any sort I offer you my final thoughts;

You know who you are and that your intentions are good.

You are intelligent. You are strong. You are beautiful.

If you’ve felt the snub of the judgmental, the armchair life coaches, and chronically bitchy, don’t you dare let it get to you. Remember how far you’ve come.

That is all my sweet darlings. That is all.

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Friday Fifty: Suffering and Presence

crying-statueThis Friday fifty was inspired by my work in end-of-life care, and my own spiritual practice.

“I’m not afraid of tears. Not like everyone else seems to be. The expression of human suffering causes panic; I must do something! What the world needs is more humanity, empathy, and to cultivate presence. Suffering is not’ bad’ or wrong. It is a rich experience from which to grow.”

It’s  Friday Fifty! I’ve linked through another blog above, but I believe that this Friday Fifty was inspired by the Scottish Trust’s Fifty Word Fiction Competition.

If you’d like to give Friday Fifty a spin, you must play by the rules as posted at  dans les pointes suture darlings.  You can leave your fifty in the comments box  or post it on your blog and link back to this post.

Twitter etiquette for Friday Fifty on Twitter, then don’t forget to use the hashtag #Friday50. Happy Writing!