May 2017

Putting a little kindness into the universe

2021-07-26T23:23:23-04:00May 5th, 2017|connection, positive thinking, relationships|

Putting a little kindness into the universe

271 cute young girl, isolated on white

I will admit I used to be exceedingly shy. In my 20’s I would have rather done almost anything rather than speak publicly. It gave me a bit of a reputation as aloof. Which wasn’t true. If I knew you I was super friendly but if not I could barely raise my head to talk to you. Back in the days when I got licensed (I had to throw this in), we had to take an oral exam along with the written exam. I knew I had to be able to do that. So I started on my own exposure therapy plan which included me teaching some classes. It worked and I passed the exam first try and subsequent to that I would no longer consider myself shy.

However, I would not say I was very friendly either. Again if I knew you it was fine but if not…. I am not sure what shifted in me one day but I became friendly. I started to talking to people everywhere. Not on every occasion but when something came up in a grocery line I would talk to the person next to me. I even initiated conversations. And what I found was that rather than draining this introvert it actually invigorated me.

There is a lady that lives on my street (this is related I promise) who walks a lot and has always seemed rather odd. Not bad just odd. One evening she rang our doorbell and gave us a package that had been misdelivered to her house. She had made a concerted effort to bring it to our house when we were home to make sure it got to us safely. It was very nice. Ever since that day every time I pass her she waves and I wave back. In fact, the other day I passed and she was waving at me with two hands. I actually almost stopped the car because I thought something was wrong but it was just an emphatic wave. It brought a big small to my face. She has been so happy to be friendly with us in this small way. I wonder how she gets treated in the world and I know perhaps people ignore her a lot because she does come across as odd. But not looking beyond is so short sighted. We won’t be best friends ever but I think it is nice for both of us to be able to exchange our friendly wave. And when I saw her two-handed wave the other day I really realized how important this small acts of kindness are. there is a lot of negative going on in the world right now. I think it serves us all to try and put a little bit of kindness out there when we can.





Photo Copyright: piovesempre / 123RF Stock Photo

December 2016

Vulnerability and Empathy

2017-03-25T23:07:59-04:00December 19th, 2016|connection, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

One of my favorite places on the Internet is Humans of New York. A photographer in NY goes around and takes pictures of people and writes a sentence or paragraph of their story. It is full of vulnerability and empathy. The subjects are vulnerable when telling their stories and the photos show such empathy and kindness to the them that it amazes me.

The reason I bring this up is that it feels like we have become completely incapable of listening and hearing each other. In conversations everyone seems to focus on their next point in an argument that will never be won. So how has it become that we have become culturally unable to listen? That answer may be beyond me but what I do think it that listening requires both vulnerability and empathy. In order to engage in a true conversation we have to be vulnerable and we need the other person to respond with empathy. Empathy doesn’t mean you have to agree with what anyone says but it does mean you have to hear his or her feeling underneath and respond to it. When we have a conversation in which we are vulnerable and the other person responds with something other than empathy we often become defensive or even angry. They respond in kind and an argument ensues.

I am not sure how we move forward in communicating with vulnerability and empathy with those that differ from us so much. It is hard to be vulnerable when you feel like you are going to be attacked. I suspect that is the reason that many of us right now are in our safe places where we only converse with those who are like-minded. And that is okay. We need to feel safe. But perhaps when we push out of our safe places instead of having a discussion about current events we can ask the other person about themselves. What is their story? What are their fears and their goals and desires? Maybe if we can find a way to connect with them on that level then at some point in the future other conversations can happen. Maybe not. I admit to fluctuating between saying stay safe and try to connect with other that are different from you. I think that there is room for both.

What I do know is that when we can listen it makes a difference. And listening to people’s stories always matters.

October 2016

Personal Connection is How We Will Heal From This Election

2016-10-11T18:12:39-04:00October 11th, 2016|connection, Thoughts From A Psychotherapist|

Personal Connection is How We Will Heal From This Election

Wow. Honestly I feel like that is all I can say right now is wow. Everywhere I go people are talking about this election. People are really angry and people are really scared. It seems to me that the media is fanning the fuel of anger right now and social media can take it over the top. I certainly don’t want to minimize people’s anger and the reasons behind it but I am concerned about how it will permeate into other aspects of our lives and how we will somehow all move forward after this election is over.

I feel sad that this is what American Politics has come to. It used to be that we all had our parties and we supported them and hoped they won but we had some respect for those on the other side of the aisle. This has been falling to the wayside for the last eight years and has reached a critical point right now. I have heard multiple friends say they don’t want their children around people that support certain candidates. Relationships are becoming acrimonious or even ending.

Prior to this election politics and elections were rarely discussed in my counseling room. Now it is talked about all the time. I hear fear and anger there too. And I don’t have answers to that. All I can do myself and advise others to do is to take care of yourself the best you can. For different people that may be different things like not watching news, or limiting contact with people that support the other candidate, or becoming active in the campaign you support. But people feel helpless and that is a very challenging place to be.

Now I digress for a moment (hang in there I will make my point) but yesterday during a break in my work I wandered over to the bookstore. It is dangerous for me to have an office near a bookstore but it is also a place I like to wander. It calms me. As I perused the books an older gentleman came into the aisle and was grumbling about not finding the book he was looking for. I will be honest in the past, as an introvert I probably just would have nodded politely and moved on. But I have been pushing myself to try and connect more when opportunities arise. This gentlemen then mentioned the author he was looking for and I said oh you find him over in the fiction and literature section not here, because I read him too and that’s where I found him. He wandered off and then returned having found his book. We then compared notes on that series and then several others we both enjoy. He told me he was 92 and about the challenges of aging. He told me how old his kids were and I joked I could be one of his grand kids. He then told me about his grand kids and great grand kids. We continued to talk as we went to pay and he told me about his service in WWII. It was a very enjoyable interaction for me and I hope for him.

The reason I share this story (told you I would return to the point) is that it helped me recognize that human connection is what we continue to really need. I don’t know who that man is going to vote for but I do know we like the same books and I enjoyed talking to him. It actually made my day. I think as we move forward post election it is important to remember this. We can still almost always find ways to connect with others, even those we disagree with. And the healing will only happen if we try and do that and try to both connect and really listen. Try to hold on to that as we move towards November 8th and beyond.





Copyright: allegretto / 123RF Stock Photo

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