Empathy

EmpathyEmpathy is one of 26 key competencies in the 4 Quadrant Model of Social + Emotional Intelligence®. Emotional Intelligence is about being aware of not only of yourself as well as others. Empathy is also about how to manage behaviours and relationships.

So what is empathy? Who has it and what are the signs of someone who doesn’t have it?

The Oxford Dictionary defines empathy as “The ability to understand and share the feelings of another”. The definition that I have on my own SEI profile is “- sensing others’ feelings and perspectives, and taking an active interest in their concerns; the ability to put yourself in another’s place and to take that perspective into account in your relationship with the other person.”

You would expect most therapists and coaches to have empathy with their clients as they listen for and observe both spoken and unspoken cues. In my humble opinion, if you come across a therapist or coach that lacks this quality….. find someone else.  There are several signs that pinpoint that someone is lacking in this competency. Firstly, they will tend to stereotype others. Another clue is the inability to “read” people or their emotions and respond without considering how another might feel about that response. A third and telling sign is that they are often in conflict and don’t take any personal responsibility for creating these situations.

Whether you believe in unseen energies or not, humans are energy beings and the research undertaken by the HeartMath Institute has shown that the energy field generated by the heart can influence both our emotional responses and those of others nearby. Of course, you don’t have to be a therapist to have empathy, you may be a good listener – which is always a good start.

The good news is, that if someone is lacking in empathy, there are ways to develop this important emotional intelligence competency. It is possible to learn how to become more empathetic. For instance, to be a good listener, you first need to quiet the chatter in your mind. Too often people are forming responses before the speaker has finished. Above all, a regular meditation practice will help you to listen with a clear mind. Practice the power of the pause.  This will help you to respond in a manner that shows sensitivity to the speaker. Learn to paraphrase what you think you have heard and most importantly withhold judgement as everyone has a different perspective.

Needless to say, if you feel that you need to develop this particular intelligence or any of the other 26 competencies for Emotional Intelligence, then schedule a Discovery Session or some coaching sessions.

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Ripples

Watching the ripples expand across the water in ever increasing circles. Just stepping into the water  – a simple action – started this reaction.

Dr Randolph Stone, the creator of Polarity Therapy wrote “Energy must have a center to  move from and an objective to flow to”. The ripples are energy made visible. Other energies such as thoughts are unseen, but they too can have a ripple effect. Emotions – both positive and negative can wash over us and the ripples can be far reaching. Polarity Therapy subscribes to the belief in 5 elements, but these differ slightly to the traditional Chinese Medicine ones. They are Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. The Water element qualities are receptivity, intuition, nurture and creativity. The flow of water, as opposed to stagnation, nourishes and connects.

Little wonder that ripples on a body of water create such a powerful metaphor  – the ripples as they reach out further and further, begin to flatten out as this subtle energy dissipates and surface tension returns to what it previously was before the disturbance. Yet below the surface or where the ripples or waves have made constant contact, there may be profound changes.

I am reminded of this poem by James W. Foley

Drop a Pebble in the Water

Drop a pebble in the water: just a splash, and it is gone;
But there’s half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on,
Spreading, spreading from the center, flowing on out to the sea.
And there is no way of telling where the end is going to be.

Drop a pebble in the water: in a minute you forget,
But there’s little waves a-flowing, and there’s ripples circling yet,
And those little waves a-flowing to a great big wave have grown;
You’ve disturbed a mighty river just by dropping in a stone.

Drop an unkind word, or careless: in a minute it is gone;
But there’s half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on.
They keep spreading, spreading, spreading from the center as they go,
And there is no way to stop them, once you’ve started them to flow.

Drop an unkind word, or careless: in a minute you forget;
But there’s little waves a-flowing, and there’s ripples circling yet,
And perhaps in some sad heart a mighty wave of tears you’ve stirred,
And disturbed a life was happy ere you dropped that unkind word.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness: just a flash and it is gone;
But there’s half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on,
Bearing hope and joy and comfort on each splashing, dashing wave
Till you wouldn’t believe the volume of the one kind word you gave.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness: in a minute you forget;
But there’s gladness still a-swelling, and there’s joy a-circling yet,
And you’ve rolled a wave of comfort whose sweet music can be heard
Over miles and miles of water just by dropping one kind word.

 

 

All a matter of perspective

When you look at this photo – what do you see? What is your perspective?

Do you see a cold, foggy morning and subconsciously shiver and look away?

Or is your perspective from the artist’s point of view with the droplets of dew twinkling like jewels in the muted light as the mist envelopes everything in a soft cloak that nourishes the plants?

Where is Spirit leading you?

You know you are on the right path, when you feel that tingle of anticipation. A combination of expectancy and apprehension….The path ahead may look a little less travelled and there is that brief moment of discomfort as you step out of the familiar (or same old, same old …… others may be blunter and call it a rut) and into the new and exciting future.

Imagine….. that this path leads you to discover some amazing insights and to connect with people just like you. Imagine… as you step into this energy that you know that Spirit has led you home.

Whatever stage you are on your journey, there are guides there supporting you. Some are visible, others may be glimpsed briefly and there may be some that have chosen not to reveal themselves to you at this stage. All you need to do is accept the signs and the help that is offered.

Listening

Recently I found that I wasn’t listening as well as I should. Quite apart from the slight deafness that has come about after decades of poor fitting motorcycle helmets.

I came to realize that in some of my conversations with colleagues that I was interrupting their conversations. It doesn’t help that my mind races at a million miles per hour when I am in a creative moment, but it is important for me, as a therapist, to correct that behaviour.

When training to become a homeopath, it was instilled in us that “a case well taken, is a case likely to succeed” and this meant not only asking the right questions, but listening carefully to the replies. Or what was not said. In homeopathy there is what is called a PQRS – peculiar, queer(it had a very different meaning back a couple of centuries ago), rare and strange symptom. This will be so different to the usual symptoms of a complaint that it will often lead directly to a remedy.
Similarly in coaching and hypnotherapy, listening carefully to the client will often result in an intuitive response that leads to great insights. Intuition is enhanced by taking time to still your own mind and stop those thoughts or impulsive answers. As the mind chatter subsides you can also become aware of your own, considered responses. Ask yourself “Is my language positive?”

A great acronym to remember is THINK –
Is it
– True?
– Helpful?
– Inspiring?
– Necessary?
– Kind?

Power

I’m not talking about power in the sense of others or the power of leaders, but more about the power and capabilities that you have.

What is it that you can do?

If you feel that you are lacking in power, then it is possible to build up and improve your skills by focusing firstly on your strengths and then on areas of vulnerability.

Personal power can be eroded by poor boundaries and a lack of confidence in your skill set or abilities. To build this up, a simple exercise is to draw up a list of the things that you are good at and identify what emotions you feel when you do these things. When you are being your best at what you do, then positive neural pathways are formed.

Now let yourself dream a little…. and envisage yourself being the very best you can be as you do that…..

About Identity

who are you?Who are you?

There may have been periods in your life where you have played a different role according to various situations.

As you grew from young child to adult there would be many defining moments that shaped your identity.

Deep down, how do you define yourself?

What are you really like?

As you progressed through adolescence, it is possible that you tried on different character traits as you modeled yourself on peers or adults that surrounded you. When one fitted in with your beliefs, like a well made coat, you kept it. Even the most well made coat can become threadbare with constant use over the years and beliefs can also be outgrown or no longer serve us well.

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Reflection

ReflectionAnother of my envelope jottings looked at intention and how reflective practices can lead to some amazing solutions.

When you set an intention use the “rule of three”.  Firstly examine what it is that you want, secondly observe what is important to you about this intention and thirdly look at what your ideal outcome is likely to be.

As you go deeper and expand upon your what your intended outcome will bring, it is advantageous to reflect on what will it do for you when you get it.

Intention

A great part of my work centres around intention. In Reiki workshops we always set an intention. Likewise in a coaching session, the intention is set to discuss a positive outcome for you. Your intention can be conscious or unconscious and a skeptic would suggest that the use of a pendulum to gauge answers has an unconscious bias.

intention and setting goalsDo you ever get an idea that needs to be recorded, but either your phone is flat or there isn’t a notepad nearby? I usually have a pen in my car or handbag and the backs of envelopes come in handy and the intention is to use or put these ideas into practice as soon as possible.  During a recent tidy up, I discovered a bundle of envelopes that were covered in notes and various ideas from several years ago. I made the decision to transcribe each one to store on the cloud. Before I knew it, I had a coaching program written and some articles for here which I would love to share with you over the next few weeks.

In setting an intention, conscious or otherwise, it is useful to use a great coaching model called Be, Do, Have.

Who are you going to be in this process? If you are going to be a leader or a teacher, you are going to have to honour yourself.  What insights are you likely to get as you lead or teach and where is the gift?

A well used saying in my Reiki training is “Energy flows, where focus goes.” For any therapist or coach, if you are focusing on a positive intention or outcome then it is most likely that you will get results.

An interesting exercise is to pick a couple of areas in your life that you want to work over the next few months and be your own hero in relation to these. As you focus on these particular areas, you engage an area within your brain called the RAS (Reticular Activating System) which will help you to filter out unnecessary stuff.

The more you become your own hero in your story, you will find that you start finding unexpected gifts, such as a calling or strength that you had put aside. If you have doubts about this, start asking yourself some harder questions – “What will happen if I decide to hang on to these doubts or unhelpful/outdated beliefs?”

A helpful strategy is to evaluate what this means to you. Are you taking responsibility for your thinking, because in a spiritual Universe, we are all perfect and doing the best we can with the resources available to us. All of this is well and good, but if you don’t take action then life will stay the same……..

If you are ready to make changes, then contact me….

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Time

Time is a precious commodity and I was reading recently how we have constructed the  concept of time – measuring it in seconds, minutes, hours….. etc.

Time seems to speed up as we are engrossed or having fun and who hasn’t felt time march by so slowly when we are bored?

Then there are those occasions when we can feel like time has been stolen from us. I’ll give an example. I was looking forward to attending a professional development meeting recently, where the speaker was to give a presentation on storytelling. As this is something that interests me, having already been to a workshop on storytelling and I was keen to find out more.

I traveled to the event with a colleague and were lucky to  find a seat in the front row and waited for the pearls of wisdom to drop into our laps. Various topics were talked about but the content didn’t match what was advertised.

Time began to drag as political and social opinions were brought up. A “case study” was distributed and time slowed further…. I couldn’t walk out. Front row. Presentation being filmed. Passenger to take home.

My attention turned to the paper that the case study was printed on. A rectangle, folded to a square and hey presto! Time started to pass more easily as my fingers folded and unfolded this paper to create an origami crane. Settling what I hoped was a look of attention on my face, the remaining paper was also folded to two more, smaller squares and Mother Crane now had two chicks…. quite apt for the metaphor of the birds the presenter used in his case study.

A couple of days later, I eagerly looked forward to a webinar replay that I had signed up for as the time clashed with the aforesaid presentation. It took a little while to begin the topic and this presenter allowed herself to be interrupted by people coming on line and typing comments. About then I started to have the feeling that this too was stealing time. Fortunately the replay came with a fast forward button and I was able to move on.

As a person who presents regular workshops, both events have been a valuable teaching tool. Plan the presentation. Talk about what you said you are going to. Be aware of your body language and tonality whilst presenting. Be present and focus on the topic and if it meant to be educational, deliver awesome content.