Monday, February 24, 2014

How to Apologize with Empathy

Have you ever had one of those moments where you just wanted to scream? (Of course, you have.) I had one of those moments last week. Laurel was having a rough day (I'm pretty sure a tooth is on its way) and Cadence was also demanding a lot of attention. I felt myself reaching a breaking point in the afternoon, so I tried to escape to the bathroom for a few moments of deep breathing. Unfortunately, Cadence was not on board with my plan and insisted on following me. I tried begging her for a few minutes of alone time as I raced up the stairs, but she was right on my heels. I felt frustrated and suddenly, in an odd, out-of-body kind of moment, a primal yell was coming out of my throat.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Good In, Good Out

I didn't have the smoothest transition into motherhood. My plans to continue consulting and training for the crisis hotline where I had worked dissolved when the board voted to dissolve the organization. The hotline took it's last call two and a half weeks after Cadence was born; I spent the beginning of that new chapter in life grieving the loss of my place in the workplace as well as all the social connections that went along with it. I had also not anticipated how difficult it was going to be to connect with most of my friends who worked full time; our lives had such different rhythms. I certainly had not anticipated losing friends to motherhood.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Sympathy, Empathy, and the Key to Being Helpful

In a recent conversation, my husband asked me what was wrong with 'sympathy.' I began my spiel on sympathy versus empathy from my hotline training days, but it all began to seem a bit pointless. It became clear that he was less interested in a lesson on semantics and much more interested in how to be kind and helpful. Of course, my answer to, "Which is more kind and helpful: sympathy or empathy?" was, "It depends."

Hmm...I think I'll amend that to, "Usually empathy, but it depends."

Sympathy is a reaction to what someone else is going through or feeling based on our own experience with or how we think we'd feel in a similar situation. We typically think of sympathy as a reaction to a negative experience, for example, feeling sad because a friend was fired from her job. Experiencing that kind of pain and sadness is uncomfortable, so the natural reaction is to help your friend feel better. Perhaps you'd take her out for a drink, send flowers, or remind her of all the reasons that she's better off not being at that job, all in the name of easing her pain.

Monday, February 3, 2014

How to Recover When You Haven't Been Listening

Does this ever happen to you?

You're chatting with a good friend when something she says reminds you that you have to tell her about running into an old co-worker, which reminds you of your last trip to the grocery store, which reminds you that you have to remember to get butter this week, which reminds you that you need to make a plan for eating more healthfully, which reminds you that you wanted to look up some recipes for tofu, which reminds you that you still need to finish reading that article about....oops! You've totally missed what your friend has been saying and you're lost.

Yeah, it happens to me, too. More than I'd like to admit. So... do you ever try faking it?