This past month, the topic empathy has come up quite a bit. I've had conversations with friends about how they either feel that they aren't being empathetic enough, or they feel that they aren't receiving empathy. As someone that works with clients one-on-one, empathy is a huge part of my practice. It's not always easy and I am nowhere near perfect, but I thought it would be a great blog as we all can relate to this topic in some way or another.
Empathy by definition is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other person's frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another's position. Some people have a harder time feeling empathy. This is something that is out of my scope of practice, but if you're interested in learning more I highly suggest checking out Brené Brown; she has some great podcasts around the topic of empathy.
Empathy is something I've become more aware of since my car accident 6 years ago. (You can check out my About Me page for the full story) It was an intense life experience and there have been countless times where I've felt misunderstood or that people in my life haven't shown empathy in the way I was hoping for. Want to know a secret? I've done the same thing! I've had friends who are experiencing something difficult, something I've never experienced, and I've kicked myself in the butt for not showing empathy in the way I'd hoped. Does that mean that we are bad people? Hell no. Being empathetic when loved ones are going through a difficult time, especially when we cannot relate or haven't experienced it, can be really freaking hard.
How do we connect? What can we say to help ease the situation? Below are my top 3 tips on how to practice more empathy:
1. Open up a safe space
The next time you're talking to a loved one that is having a hard time, open up a safe space for them to be how they need to in that moment. If they start the conversation, just quietly listen to what they're saying. If you're able, try to put yourself in their shoes mentally. Try and understand where they are coming from and the feelings they are experiencing. Simply just listen. Remind them that they are in safe place to say what they feel with no judgement.
2. Ask before you give advice
You will find yourself in moments where people are seeking advice, but in my opinion, it's always smart to ask before giving it. I've been in the situation where I've offered a friend unsolicited advice and she told me she knew the solutions and that she needed to hash it out with someone. This is totally valid and I've been on the other end of this situation as well. Now, if someone is venting or talking to me about a hardship, if I have advice to give, I ask before offering it. Simply just saying, "can I offer some advice" or "do you want another persons point of view" are easy ways to ask. Some people may say yes and some may say no. Either response is valid and it's important to respect their decision.
3. If you don't know what to say, tell them
If you don't know how to respond to someone, it's common to get flustered. Some common responses are: not saying anything at all, offering unsolicited advice or even shutting down. When you don't know what to say, I find the easiest thing to do is just to be honest. Next time you don't know how to respond, try: "I'm so sorry to hear that, I wish I knew what to say to make you feel better". In my opinion that's a great response. You can even ask "is there anything I can do to help"? Both of these responses show that you have good intentions and you want to help. More often then not, the person will respect and appreciate your honesty.
These tips are things I've uncovered since working with clients and also just reflecting on past experiences with my family and friends. At the end of the day, people just really want to be heard. Be loving and open up a safe space so they don't feel alone. Remember nobody is perfect, but if you go in with good intentions, that will shine through.
When we think of health, we often fall into the trap of just focusing on one tiny aspect of it. If we want to lose 10 pounds, we focus on cutting out carbs; if we want to meditate more, we block out 10 minutes each day to meditate. While these things are great, they don't take into account the other aspects of your health. In this blog I want to talk about how health is all-encompassing, and where I am with my journey.
I will admit that I haven't done the best job recently focusing on all of my aspects of health. I've been trying to get back into a rhythm since moving to New York and I've been guilty of focusing on only a few areas of my health. Lately, I've been focusing on moving my body, specifically going on runs a few times a week. When anyone works out consistently, they need to properly fuel their body. Wanna know a secret? I haven't! (embarrassed face) I haven't been eating unhealthy per see, I just haven't been eating the proper foods that my body needs. I've been caught numerous times this month skipping lunch because I'm either running around or I'm just too busy. This usually results in me snacking and not getting the balanced meal my body is looking for. And because I'm not fueling my body properly, I get more tired during the day, which means my work starts to suffer. It's like a chain reaction! If I had just eaten a balanced meal for lunch, I wouldn't feel like I need a nap at 3 pm.
Recently, I've also noticed that I need other outlets for my health. I can't just focus on the fitness and food aspects and forget the rest; I need to take care of my mental and emotional state too. A friend of mine recommended journaling every morning when I'm eating breakfast. Write down things such as: what I'm going to do that day, positive affirmations and what I'm grateful for. I've been doing this for the past week and I can already tell how much it's helped my emotional well-being.
These are just some examples from my own personal life, but everyone is different. I've provided some examples below of different areas in your life that are important to your health. Some are more obvious than others.
Looking at this list, do you need to focus on some of these areas more than others? For me, I need to continue to put effort into journaling until it becomes a habit.
What's one thing you can work on this week?
Ever feel like you're constantly doubting yourself? Doubting your abilities, purpose, uniqueness, etc. If you said yes, then I'm right there with you!
These past few months have been crazy for me work wise. I spent months developing and launching a women's wellness company with an amazing business partner. After a few months, I came to the realization that I wanted to help people who are experiencing some of the hardships I faced after my accident. It wasn't an easy decision or easy conversation, but I knew in my heart that this is the direction I needed to go in. The phrase that's consistently come up for me is, "I feel like I survived my accident for a reason" and I know that this is the reason.
Since I made my decision, I've been working with clients post-physical setback and I absolutely love it. It's so rewarding to watch people grow in a short amount of time. This is something I have extensive experience in. If you follow me on Instagram or have read my About Me, you know that I was a collegiate volleyball athlete. After recovering from my car accident, I was told by my doctor that I would be back to normal. To me, normal meant being a great volleyball player. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. I couldn't regain the strength I once had and it showed in my abilities. I was crushed. Because I didn't have anyone to talk to, I slowly started to give up. I dwindled from a starter to a bench player within 2 years and I ended my career on a sour note. This is why I'm so passionate about helping people post-physical setback; I know how difficult it can be.
Knowing the type of clients I want to help is a great feeling, but I would be lying if I said that there haven't been moments of self-doubt. Questions like, "will people take me seriously?", "do I know enough?", "do I deserve to have a great job where I get to just help people?" have been circling my brain for the past few weeks. When I write them down in this blog I even think, "how silly are these questions?"! Going through my experience makes me knowledgable on the topic. I know the feelings that can come up and I know what to do and what not to do to start moving forward.
When these moments of self-doubt come up, it can be very debilitating. I've learned that keeping these feelings to myself only makes things worse. For the past few weeks, I've made it a point to verbalize my self-doubt with others. I've found that this is the best way for me to break through my insecurities. When I sweep my fears under the rug and act like they don't exist, I find I'm not as productive.
If you're reading this blog and you are struggling with insecurities, know that you're not alone. Self-doubt is something that everyone experiences! To work through these insecurities, try out different techniques. (i.e. journaling, talking with a friend) Take it from me, bottling up those insecurities is not the best use of your energy!
When we get out of our routine it can be hard as hell to get back into it! The longer we prolong getting back into said routine the harder it becomes. Phrases like, I will start tomorrow become your new routine.
Today I'm going to talk about the 3 things you can do to get back into a routine. Why? Well I just moved to NYC and I'm finding it hard to get back into my own routine. This blog is just as much for me as it is for you!
1. Schedule bits of your routine out
I don't know about you, but if I have a schedule it's important for me to stick to it; especially if I write something down. When something is in writing it holds more weight for me and I feel like I need to do it!
It can be super beneficial to schedule small parts of your routine back into your life. Notice I used the phrase small parts? Overwhelming yourself and doing too much at first is one of the worst things you can do. If you're trying to get back into the swing of things, the last thing you want to do is try and do everything at once. You will end up getting too overwhelmed and you will have a harder time sticking to your routine.
So start with baby steps. If you have a morning routine that you want to get back into, try incorporating one thing for the first few days. Then when you feel like that's turning into a routine, you can add on another bit of your routine. The baby steps will create lasting change!
2. Have someone keep you accountable
Having someone keep you accountable is a great way to get things done. Find a friend or someone close to you that will give you some tough love if you don't keep up your end of the deal. It will help you stay accountable to follow-through with your tasks.
It also helps if you find a friend or find someone else that is also looking for some accountability. You both can keep one another accountable and it won't feel like you have a friend that is constantly nagging you.
My friend is my old business partner. We have weekly calls where we talk about work and set out weekly action steps for one another. When we have our check-ins we make sure the other person has been keeping up and doing their work!
3. Focus on what you've done - not what you haven't done
When getting back into the swing of things, you're going to have some slip ups. You may not hit all the marks in your routine and that's totally fine! Instead of focusing on what you didn't do, focus on what you have done. If you did one solid bit of your routine during the day but didn't do 3 other things, focus on the fact that you even did one part of your routine. You don't need to have it all figured out and be perfect every day. When we focus on the good things we've done, it motivates us to continue to work. When we focus on the bad, it demotivates us.
The most important thing is to remember that you're constantly evolving and changing. Don't get down in the dumps if something doesn't go as expected or you don't do everything you hoped for the day. Keep that positive attitude going and it will fall into place.
Just a girl writing down her thoughts on life post-trauma, body acceptance and wellness.