Seasons, stressors, community
Brene Brown touches into something we deeply understand. Particularly at this time of year. ‘Tis the season for a lot of holly jolly – and a good deal of facing into the loss of loved ones, loneliness, and “What do I really want?” uncertainty. If we’re not already practicing it, this is a good time to start being an empathetic presence in one another’s lives.
Brown and other mental health professionals and researchers are expanding their work into study around how we might thrive. Resilience work and positive psychology (more than just thinking positively) have found their way into practice, and that’s good news for all of us.
Building our empathy muscle
A friend recently gave me the book, “There’s no Good Card for This.” For a gently playful smack upside the head on how-to empathy, this is a good resource. It provides the basics on caring for loved ones when things go side ways. Bonus? There’s guidance on how to care for Self while compassionately supporting others.
If a book feels like a stretch, WikiHow has some excellent pointers on reaching out, and caring for self, too. In part one of their Wiki article, “Connecting with others through empathy,” they offer six helpful and creative tools for moving from compassionate thought to loving action.
I particularly love part two, though: Building up your empathy. There they offer 7 ways to effectively and sustainably work this muscle. They suggest practicing curiosity, volunteering, and challenging your own prejudice. The challenge? Think outside of the box you’ve comfortably settled into. See the world from the perspective of your loved one, the stranger on the bus, your friend who’s struggling. They go on to name things like meditation and actually attempting to walk a mile in another person’s “shoes” (life experience).
We’re in this together
Give Brene Brown a listen. Read Crowe/McDowell’s book on empathy, or give that Wiki article a glance. Set yourself up to show yourself, and the people you care about, a little empathy this holiday season.