Blog — Empathy

Freeing Your Marriage from Anxiety

Happy Valentine's Day! Nothing gets in the way of love like worry does. But you don't have to let worry wreak havoc in your relationship. Here's a piece I wrote for Huffington Post: Make Love, Not Worry.  

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It's National Do a Favor for a Grouch Day: Or, How to Have Compassion for Curmudgeons

Yes, there is a holiday for everything. February 16th is National Do a Favor for a Grouch Day. What? The last thing we think to do when we've been hit in the gut by inadvertently walking through some one else's emotional target practice, is, "wow, what can I do for that person?" But, we may just find that the favor we do for a prickly person, is really a favor we are doing for ourselves.  Here is a piece I wrote for the Philadelphia Inquirer about compassion meditation.

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Better Living Through Empathy: National Day Without Stigma

listening-to-brain
October 7th-13th is National Mental Health Awareness Week. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): "An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older -- about one in four adults -- suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people."  With numbers this high, one would imagine that talking about mental health concerns would be as matter of fact as talking about a sore throat, or knee replacement surgery-- and as no-fault.  As anyone who has debated whether to tell friends or boss about their depression or anxiety knows, we're not nearly there yet. 

Stigma is the obstacle. On October 9th, the grassroots organization, activeminds.org is holding a National Day Without Stigma. Removing stigma isn't just good for those who suffer with a mental disorder, it is essential for all of us.

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What Robin Williams Can Teach Us

robin-williamsAs much as we are interacting with people who are suffering from depression everyday-- research suggests that at any given time as many as one in ten adults is in its grips-- the suicide of the beloved, Robin Williams, shook us, stunned us, and saddened us greatly. It also left us with many questions, among them-- what can we do to help people with depression? Here are my thoughts with special help from my friend, depression-insider, Therese Borchard.

 

 

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How to Survive Family Holiday Gatherings, And Even Enjoy Them!

Cia de Foto / DecorLove / CC BY-NC-SA

Many people can't wait to get together with their families for the holidays; others dread this time of year. I am going to go out on a limb here and say in most families the potential is there for both experiences! There's goodness to be shared, and there are minefields to be tiptoed around. But this is family—our families— the only ones we've got. Here's a post I wrote a while back about taking on the challenges and finding the good during the holidays. It's a favorite of mine, I hope you enjoy (and share it with a friend who really needs it!). Happy, healthy holidays and all best wishes for 2015!

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Empathy 101: How to Listen Instead of Handing Out a To do List

Gratner/iStock by permissionDon't you love it when your kids teach you things that you thought you already knew... maybe even things that you thought you were already good at? I do actually really love when that happens (especially when I can blog about it!) and such was the case with an impromptu lesson for me, courtesy of my older daughter, on empathy. I hope her tagline: Empathy, period, resonates with you as much as it did with me. Here's to more empathy all around.

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Looking At Anxiety Through the Lens of "Little Panic"

Little Panic"Panic is hard to understand if you haven't experienced it," this is what a twelve year old girl recently told me through her tears, upset that her parents can't understand her and so can't help her feel better. Her parents  (and the millions of other parents of kids with anxiety) are upset because they want to empathize and help, but don't know how. How can parents get up to speed so that kids aren't feeling lost and alone with frightening symptoms and experiences that they themselves can't understand? A new memoir called Little Panic by writer and mental health advocate Amanda Stern gives us some powerful answers. Little Panic illuminates with poignancy, clarity and wit, Stern's experience of and ultimate triumph over growing up with an undiagnosed panic disorder. Stern's spot on descriptions of the struggles of anxious kids have become my go to for parents who want to understand what anxiety feels like to a child, but importantly, Stern's story and her life will inspire adults struggling with anxiety to see that with knowledge and persistence you really can free yourself from anxiety and live the life you want. Please check out Little Panic!

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Rethinking the Path to Empathy: When it's Hard to Connect, Step into Your Own Shoes First

EmpathyWhat is the path to empathy? We have all been urged (or at times, chided) to "step into someone else's shoes," But just as we might strain to comprehend the extent of the physical pain someone is experiencing when they look so normal, so like us on the outside, we can strain to fathom the extent of emotional distress others endure in the absence--to us-- of a good enough cause. In other words, try as we might, someone else's shoes just might not fit. That's OK. We don't have to understand what someone else is feeling, we just have to want to. Instead of doing the far stretch into someone else's shoes, as fellow human beings we all understand suffering-- whether from anxiety, or loss, or pain, so we can step into our own shoes, flip through our own feelings of vulnerability and find a "good enough" empathic match. Here are some ideas to run with (in your empathy shoes!). Here's to less worry and more empathy all around.

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