All relationships are different. The players are different. The dynamics are different. Each has a different context. Each has a different history. Each has its own importance and priority in one's life. Some are of no consequence some are life altering. Some are short. Some last a long, long time. But, all of them require some level of effort and all of them, I believe, could greatly benefit from being simplified through a bit more communication and a little bit of heartfelt honesty…and where possible empathy. Here is my two cents worth about the relationship between empathy-communication and cancerous thoughts…maybe they'll help you resolve something that has been nagging away at you for a while. P.S. My new motto in life is: Get thee to a psychologist before you end up in the arms of an oncologist.
Empathy is hard but you should try it sometime…not for the other person's sake but for your own…empathy is defined simply as "the ability to understand and share the feelings of others" by the Oxford dictionary. Berkley University has an amazing website called "The Science of Happiness". I love this site because they had me at "science".
The Science of Happiness website writes:
As long as you don't make yourself sick with someone else's sadness, you are OK. Just feeling a little bad at what they are going through and putting yourself in their shoes and trying to see things from their perspective is enough in my books. Because…it has positive outcomes for you…
It may not always be easy, or even possible, to empathise with others but through good communication skills and some imagination we can work towards more empathetic feelings. Research has suggested that individuals who can empathise enjoy better relationships with others and greater well-being through life.
The whole point of communication is not getting things off of your chest. It is getting others to understand, truly understand, what is on your chest and why it is there and what that other person can do to help, should they wish...
Empathy helps us to communicate our ideas in a way that makes sense to others, and it helps us understand others when they communicate with us. It is one of the foundational building blocks of great social interaction and, quite obviously, powerful stuff.
Why should people empathize??
So…I wish I had more empathetic politicians, more empathetic friends and a more empathetic partner, more empathetic students, parents and teachers where my kids go to school, more empathetic neighbors, more empathetic citizens around me, more empathetic lawmakers and law enforcers, more empathetic doctors and managers. Hmmmm…tall order…maybe I should just start by being more empathetic myself and see how that impacts my relationships….
Unfortunately, only a few people have excellent natural empathy. Our empathic wiring exists on a continuum. Some people have fantastic natural empathy, and can pick up how someone else is feeling just by looking at them. Some people have only a tiny amount of natural empathy, and won’t notice that you are angry until you start yelling. Most people lie somewhere in the middle, and understand how someone else is feeling only part of the time.
That is super cool! So we can learn to be more empathetic…which will improve how we communicate and relate with others…which in turn will (hopefully) improve how they communicate and relate with us….
Of course, moving on is not always possible with family or friends or partners that are/were once really really important to you. So, when in doubt, YOU make another attempt at being empathetic and clearing the air. And if this doesn't work, then try again, later. Don't let it linger forever…it will eat away at you and make you sick…
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