Posts Tagged ‘empathy’

Nothing But Pain

July 6, 2014

homeless-man-on-street-despairI was moved by this story by Becky Lee, which was printed on Quora. It’s taken me a while but I’m getting better at looking past a person’s appearance and circumstances, perceiving their needs and, when appropriate, trying to connect with them on a meaningful level. Becky’s story reinforces  a great truth: every human being is in need of caring, comfort and kindness. Like Becky, I do what I can when I can, knowing that even the slightest bit of attention and loving concern can change a life.

Seek to do brave and lovely things which are left undone by the majority of people. Give gifts of love and peace to those whom others pass by.
Paramahansa Yogananda



JUST TAKE EVERYTHING
by Becky Lee

I was recently sitting in a doctor’s office waiting for an appointment. A man approached the reception desk with no shirt on, using it as a sling around his leg.

He was sweating profusely and he stunk. He was dirty. He looked like a bum. He was pleading with the receptionist to get a doctor to see him because he didn’t have any pain pills.

The receptionist and I smirked at each other and everyone in the waiting room shot each other a knowing glance . . . as if we were all thinking, “Oh, brother.”

The receptionist patronizingly explained that he would have to make an appointment and the doctor was too busy to renew his prescription. She refused to ask. I felt like rolling my eyes at this man. I mean, HELLO DUDE, make an appointment and for God sakes put on a shirt and have some self-respect. He disgusted me.

At that moment the man dropped to the floor and looked up at the sky. He started to weep. I mean REALLY WEEP. I will never forget what he said.

He said,   (more…)

A Hero On and Off the Field

April 11, 2014

Mariano Rivera

Mariano Rivera




Given the way I worshiped baseball players as a kid, it warms my heart to learn of players who accept the responsibility of being a role model and express it gracefully and with compassion. Mariano Rivera plays that role beautifully.

This article, Exit Sandman: Baseball bids adieu to Mariano Rivera, by Tom Verducci in the September 23, 2013 issue of Sports Illustrated.






EXIT SANDMAN: BASEBALL BIDS ADIEU TO MARIANO RIVERA
by Tom Verducci

Rivera thought about retiring last season, but when he blew out his knee shagging batting practice fly balls in Kansas City on May 3, 2012, he vowed he would not leave baseball on the back of a cart. Knowing this would be his final season, he approached Zillo with an idea: In each road city he wanted to personally meet “behind-the-scenes” people who had dedicated their lives to baseball or had known illness or tragedy. While baseball wanted to say goodbye to Rivera, with the attendant going-away gifts and photo ops, Rivera wanted to say goodbye to baseball, which for him meant all the people who toil in anonymity.

Mariano Rivera meeting the Bresette family in Kansas City on May 11, 2013. (Photo courtesy of John Sleezer/Landov)

Mariano Rivera meeting the Bresette family in Kansas City on May 11, 2013.
(Photo courtesy of John Sleezer/Landov)

On May 11, Rivera met Ryan Bresette, his wife, Heather, and their three sons, Joe, 13, Sam, 9, and Tyler, 6, in the media room at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium. (The Bresettes’ daughter, Anna, 14, was unable to attend the pregame gathering because of a soccer game.) Bresette worked as a clubhouse attendant for the Royals from 1982 to ’94 and had never met Rivera.

On March 22 the Bresettes, while returning home from a vacation in Florida, had been standing next to a mammoth flight-status display board in the -Birmingham, Ala., airport when the board, estimated to weigh more than 300 pounds, fell (more…)

You May Be Someone’s Only Angel

September 29, 2013

This poignant four-minute video produced by Cleveland Clinic is a good reminder to be other-centered instead of self-centered. That’s a powerful lesson to keep in mind because you never know if the next person you run into is having the best day of her life. Or the worst.

If you knew the man sitting at the next table was feeling utterly alone and desperate, would you take a moment to smile warmly and offer a kind word? Or would you sip your coffee, check your phone and ignore him?

Someone close to me told me he was in a dark place a few years back, struggling to find a reason to get up in the morning. At the checkout line in a grocery store, a woman smiled at him and (more…)

Try a Little Tenderness

July 4, 2012



In church this last Sunday, the minister told two stories about a senior monk he knew who modeled a wonderful approach to engaging with angry people.



When the minister was a young monk himself, he was doing yard work at the ashram under the watchful eye of the senior monk when a truck driver pulled up. The driver was extremely upset and spewing foul language because he had been driving around the winding roads in the area for an hour trying to find the ashram. The senior monk sympathized with the truck driver and said, “l can see why you’re so upset. You must be worried about staying on schedule. Here, let (more…)

You Are Part of a Larger Family

February 25, 2012



This four-minute video may be a bit on the amateurish side but its message is right on: It’s not all about you. As soon as you awaken to that truth—when your shift from self-centered to other-centered clicks into place—you cannot look anywhere without seeing opportunities to help, comfort or inspire others.

Be kind, for everyone you (more…)

Six Minutes

January 6, 2012

This afternoon at the place where I volunteer, I overheard two women I know who are a bit older than me mention that they were tired and dragging. Since I’m a certified massage therapist, I asked if they’d like a neck-and-shoulder rub in the lunchroom. (I do three-minte shoulder massages for yoga students at a nearby yoga studio three times a week in exchange for free classes.) Both enthusiastically accepted my offer.

During the seated-chair massages, each of which lasted about six minutes, I learned that one woman’s husband had been (more…)

The Sweetness in Their Soul

December 18, 2011

If there is someone whom you regard with disdain or scorn, know that someone else views that same person in the opposite way. Yes, your counterpart may not know what you know or see what you see, but their perception is equally valid, for they choose to see the sweetness in your adversary’s soul rather than the negative qualities that you have so single-mindedly zeroed in on.

Remind yourself that it is also true that some people view you with great affection while others consider you an object (more…)

Please Call Me by My True Names

December 9, 2011

Thich Nhat Hanh







A friend told me this poem was instrumental in forgiving and healing a traumatic childhood issue. It is powerful indeed. Thich Nhat Hanh‘s message must be considered before we condemn those who have harmed us.










Here is Thich Nhat Hanh’s introduction to his poem:

I have a poem for you. This poem is about three of us. The first is a twelve-year-old girl, one of the boat people crossing the Gulf of Siam. She was raped by a sea pirate, and after that she threw herself into the sea. The second person is the sea pirate, who was born in a remote village in Thailand. And the third person is (more…)

Love Is for People Who Know Who They Are

October 29, 2011






Your search for a romantic partner will move closer to fruition once you direct your search within.





Those who go searching for love only find their own lovelessness. But the loveless never find love; only the loving find love, and they never have to search for it.
D. H. Lawrence

You cannot fully and confidently give your heart to another until you (more…)

A Rich and Wonderful Reward!

September 30, 2010



In an earlier post about trying to resist yielding to my ego in social situations, I wrote:



It’s helpful to remind myself that the person I’m talking to is as much a child of God as I am. Focusing on their inner divinity snaps me out of my self-absorbed mindset and naturally produces feelings of empathy, compassion, and love.

While waiting for a routine blood draw today in a medical office, I decided to swat my ego away, take the initiative and transform the way I interact with people. Here was my two-part plan:

1) Go to my heart, so I could come from a loving place instead of from an intellectual point of view.
2) Silently say to the person in front of me, “Look how (more…)

Seven Steps to Better Relationships

May 30, 2010




Are you getting along with people as well as you’d like to? Or do you often find yourself at odds with friends, family and even strangers? Well, if you find it difficult to get on the same page with people, the problem is probably you, not them. Look at all your relationships; you’re the common denominator. Here are seven steps for bringing more peace and harmony to your relationships.




LIVE MORE CONSCIOUSLY
Start watching your thoughts as if they were someone else’s. Doing this allows you to “step out from behind your eyes” and serve as a conscious witness to your own life. You may find that your view of objective reality was neither objective nor real.


ESCAPE FROM “PLANET ME”
Recognize that your perceptions are uniquely yours, that the world you live in has a population of one. Unfortunately, the people (more…)

The Balcony of Introspection

March 1, 2010

The more you can step back and view whatever happens as an impartial observer, rather than as a victim, the more peaceful you will be.

Much of our inner turbulence reflects the fear of loss: our dependence on people, circumstances, and things not really under our control. On some level we know that death, indifference, rejection, repossession, or high tide may leave us bereft in the morning. Still, we clutch desperately at things we cannot finally hold. Nonattachment is the most realistic of attitudes. It is freedom from wishful thinking, from always wanting things to be otherwise.
Marilyn Ferguson

Paramahansa Yogananda urged his devotees to “look dispassionately at the drama of your life from the balcony of introspection.”

To become a spectator of one’s own life is to escape the suffering of life.
Oscar Wilde

Impartially observing the circumstances of a loved one’s life may be more difficult. After all, you (more…)

You Are Weeping For That Which Has Been Your Delight

October 27, 2009

stone-statue-of-grieving-womanGrief, whether for the loss of a relationship, a loved one, or our health, is a necessary bridge between life as we knew it and the “new normal.” Yet, immersed in sorrow, we fear that we may never again drink deeply of the cup of life.

Grief is often tinged with regret. We dream of traveling back to happier times and making the most of second chances. Spare yourself such anguish; beginning today, make the most of your first chances.

When we lose one we love, our bitterest tears are called forth by the memory of hours when we loved not enough.
Maurice Maeterlinck

Our own suffering can give us insight into (more…)

Be Empathetic AND Energetic!

November 17, 2008

painted-hands-clasping-empathyAt dinner the other night, a friend told me that she was so empathic that she took on others’ emotional pain when she was in their presence. She had been wired like that her entire life and viewed it as a good thing, even though she often felt drained and overwhelmed in the aftermath of such an encounter.

Certainly, while there is value in connecting so intimately and vulnerably with another human being, the downside of becoming so emotionally entwined is that you may not be clear-headed enough to help the other person—unless, of course, you both consider it most helpful to sob on each others’ shoulder, which very well may be the case. Indeed, sometimes a good cry can do you both a world of good.

Where being hyper-empathic tends to be more problematic is in the field of bodywork—massage, energy healing, etc. How often have you heard such a practitioner say that they feel drained after a session, or that they’ve taken on the client’s “bad energy”? (more…)