Empathy, Compassion, Support

Empathy – the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.

Compassion – sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it. 

Thank goodness for those who surround us with compassion! It’s so helpful to know that there are those who care about us who are not empathetic; they don’t personally know our pain but care about us deeply. That’s compassion.

Support – to hold in position so as to keep from falling, sinking or slipping.

Ahhh, perhaps the key is to interact with others who are able to provide empathy or/and compassion combined with support.

Traveling the journey of grief into healing is not something easily done alone. When someone offers us empathy, it makes a huge difference. Having the experience of someone looking us in the eye and saying ‘Yes, I get it. I truly know what you are going through.’ Offers comfort as it relieves a bit of pressure. The sufferer understands that they are not alone; others have felt this pain as well. Validating the thoughts and feelings, allowing the sufferer to be witnessed, to be heard.

When it turns out that the person cares about our feelings, we experience the healing of compassion. Our pain matters, someone cares enough to reach out and let us know that they are here for us.

Support. Hearing that others have been through similar pain is not enough. Knowing that others care about our pain is not enough. Combined with support. The open arms offering warm hugs. The card that reminds us we are not forgotten. The written, spoken or silently communicated message that ‘I care’ means so much that there is no way to express it adequately.

Not everyone will offer empathy. Thank goodness, not everyone has suffered the same pain. Not everyone is wired to offer compassion. Some simply are not able to broaden their mind and heart to want to alleviate pain. However, nearly everyone is willing and able to offer support.

Perhaps we would benefit from learning how to ask for the support that we want and need. No doubt, it is a very difficult thing for some to ask while asking comes as easily as breathing for others.  When we are in pain if we already have difficulty asking for support it becomes even more cumbersome, perhaps overwhelming. At that time, when it is most needed, those people may not have the support that they truly need.

Each and everyone one of us have experienced pain in our lives. If we are able to remember how it feels to feel alone, even abandoned it may well prompt us to be sure that no one else ever feels alone. On the other hand, if we have experienced strong, loving support; I hope that encourages us to share that support with those that we care about.

Everyone deserves empathy, compassion, and support. It changes the way we feel when we are in pain, reminding us that we are not alone. Likewise, these feelings change our experience when we are able to reach out to someone who is hurting. Well worth considering.

Namaste,
Sandy

 

 

Expressing Thoughts and Feelings – Not a Competition

It happens quite often. Someone will be telling about a loss, worry or fear and another will say something like ‘at least you are not going through what I am’. Pretty effectively causing the first person to feel that they have no right to feel what they do or to express that feeling. To which I respond, ‘ugh!!!!’

If feelings and emotions are not good or bad, and for the record, I agree with that notion, then why is it so often than the one-up game is played? I suspect that there are various reasons why this happens, and since I’m in the mood to share I’ll do so.

Fear of being left out. Ohhhh, that feels like it a hit on the nail head. After all, if you tell me that your childhood pet has died. This pet is the one who comforted you while you went through a tornado,  stayed by your side through illness and licked your face when your friends ignored you; I might feel that I simply have no business sharing the fact that I’m feeling really sad for no discernible reason at all. Would it be possible that I need to share what I feel but that since I don’t think my feelings measure up to yours that I can’t do it? That might make me feel left out. Is there an alternative?

How about the thought that if I’m not in more pain, sadder, angrier, more helpless or alternately if I’m not experiencing more joy, happiness, absolute bliss that I’m moving through some situation wrong? In other words, if I measure my feelings, thoughts and emotions against yours and mine are not as big, then perhaps I’m not a caring, loving, worthy person. Yikes!

If we talk about what you think or feel than its entirely possible that everything won’t be about me! That simply cannot happen, because if the focus is not on me all the time, perhaps I’ll cease to exist in some manner.

Now, these are just a few thoughts that occur to me, but they all feel like they have a bit of truth to them.  You go through stuff in your life, so do I. In fact, we all do, it’s the human experience. Some of this stuff is fabulous, some okay, some not so good and some is truly dreadful. You naturally have thoughts, ideas, and feelings about what is happening in your life. That’s the way life works.

Are you ready for an example? My youngest son died in December 2010. My other two incredible sons live quite a distance from home. One evening I was feeling a bit low. I hadn’t slept the night before, so I was tired and grumpy in general. Hubby was at work so I had time to myself. I spoke to each of my boys on the phone during the day and enjoyed it. However, by that evening I was incredibly tired, and simply missed all three of my boys. I shared this with a good friend of mine (who is an amazing lady) and her response set me to thinking about this entire process. She apologized for sharing her own feelings of missing a child who has moved away from home. Why is that? She misses that person very much and I’m honored and privileged that she shares those feelings with me. I pray that I am supportive of her. Are her feelings any less valid because her experience is different than mine? I don’t think so.

For my money, it’s okay to experience a situation along with someone else and to respond differently. Not only is it okay, it’s inevitable. It doesn’t make us any less loving or caring individuals if we respond differently than someone else to any given situation.  We’re simply different people responding in our personal ways. Not better. Not worse. Just individual.

Feelings and emotions are not good or bad, they simply are feelings and emotions. My hope is that when we talk with friends and loved ones that we do feel it is safe to share. The key word here is ‘share’. If we can listen and appreciate that there is great value in hearing what is being expressed perhaps we can release the need to compete. Trusting that we offer great value regardless of whether we are sharing or listening.

I have a challenge this week. Accept it if you choose, but for me, I’m going to give it a whirl. The challenge is not only to listen but to really hear what is being said to me. Without judgment. Without feeling as though I need to top it to be of value. I wonder how it will change how I feel about the people I’m listening to. I wonder if it might change the way they feel about me. Learning and growing friends, not competing. Just living, learning and growing.

Namaste,
Sandy

 

In Reiki the Only Absolute is No Absolutes

The first time I experienced Reiki it changed my life. Sounds a bit dramatic doesn’t it? Well, for me it was just that. I had been experiencing severe shoulder pain for quite some time.

I vividly remember being on that Reiki table and as the hour neared ending I was getting very concerned, actually, I was preparing to be angry. You see, at that time lying still for a period of time usually ended with me being in quite a lot of pain. I had gone through two shoulder surgeries which resulted in my shoulder operating properly but left me with chronic pain. Visits to my doctor had led me to believe that I would simply need to live with this pain, nothing else could be done.

The pain was not all that had led me to seek Reiki. At the time I was experiencing stress from several fronts and really was not being successful in releasing that stress on my own. My son Jeff advised, implored, nagged and generally badgered me to try Reiki as it had helped him with stress. Finally, I caved and went to check this out for myself. And if I admit the truth, I wanted to have a reason to ask Jeff to be quiet.

During our pre-session chat, I asked questions, I wanted to know just what Reiki was going to do for me. The practitioner that I was visiting was very patient. She explained that Reiki is Universal Life Force Energy and that it would assist me to release negativity which no longer served my highest good. She went on to explain that this would assist me to heal on whatever level I was ready. Despite my many questions, or more accurately I might say that despite my badgering her to tell me precisely what to expect, she simply smiled and told me that my experience would be unique for me. She could not and would not tell me absolutely what to expect. Okay, I decided to give it a whirl.

That first experience was unlike anything I had ever encountered. As I relaxed, my mind quieted, bit by bit. I felt myself becoming calmer and I thoroughly enjoyed the downtime. However, as I said above, as the session neared its end I found myself becoming a bit nervous about the pain I knew I would experience when I got off the table. The shoulder pain I continually experienced was worse when I was still for an extended period of time. I fully expected to be in quite a lot of pain when I got up from the table. Imagine my surprise when instead of being in pain, I felt better than I had in quite some time. What happened? What was this Reiki that I could feel so much better? Had Reiki achieved this miracle? Would Reiki accomplish this calming effect each time I went for a session?

So many questions filled my mind and I asked each and every one of them after this first session. What the Reiki Master who was my practitioner told me, quietly and gently was that Reiki had allowed me to calm and relax and I was healing to the extent that I was ready. While I accepted that response, it didn’t feel concrete enough for me. So I persisted. I began reading books, visiting websites and questioning anyone and everyone I knew who either offered Reiki or had gone for sessions.

Eventually, I came to accept what I had been told after my first experience. No matter what the level of the Reiki practitioner, from Reiki level one to Reiki master, the Reiki which flows is offered to the recipient by the practitioner, but the level of healing is up to the recipient. There are absolutely no absolutes when discussing Reiki.

There have been times when I have been profoundly moved while receiving Reiki, tears of emotional release have flowed. Other times I have wanted to giggle I have felt such joy. Deep relaxation is not unusual, nor is it an odd event for my mind to flit from one topic to another. The only constant is that I now know, Reiki is flowing from practitioner to recipient and it is entirely up to the recipient to use in the manner which serves their highest good.

Mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. Reiki works on all levels, but it’s not for me to say to what degree at any given time. The intelligent energy of Reiki works on the level which we are prepared to accept. I find it exciting and reassuring that I do not know just what will happen. For me the trust is everything.

I know that Reiki only works for the highest good. I know that Reiki works on the level that the recipient is ready to accept. I know that Reiki is complementary with all medical treatments, that it can never do harm. What will that look like to me or to you? I can’t say for sure. That’s why once again I offer when working with Reiki, there are absolutely no absolutes.

I encourage you to experience Reiki for yourself. The experience may simply offer you an opportunity to relax and recharge…or it may change your life.

Namaste,
Sandy

Peace at Last

My father died on Friday, December 29, 2006. It was much more painful than I expected.  

My father and mother divorced when I was very young. My mom soon married again to the man who raised me, the man I have always considered and referred to me as my dad.

I was raised to respect and care for my father. While I grew up in Wisconsin he lived and worked in Louisiana. Generally, I saw him once a year, though sometimes it was less often. He made regular phone calls while I was growing up and I’m sure he did the best he could to build a relationship. But as you might expect it was never as close as I somehow thought it should be and always hoped it would become.

I grew up, married and had a family of my own. My father continued to call fairly regularly and to visit when he would be in the area. As he had been raised in northern Wisconsin he made visits to the Milwaukee area most years.

This was always a tough relationship, looking back I think it was tough for both of us. There’s no doubt that I could have and should have tried harder on my end. I always thought that he could have and probably should have tried more as well. Sadly, when I think about it now, I realize that I had no idea how to bring about the relationship I desired or if I even knew what I wanted. I always just sort of felt that there was something missing. Frankly, I don’t know even now if he was satisfied with the way things were either, or if he thought there should be more as well.

My father’s two younger brothers died a few years before him. After their deaths, I had the strong feeling that he was much more aware of his mortality. He definitely made more of an effort to connect with me and my grown children than he ever had before. He spent a few weeks at a time in Wisconsin and made much more of an effort to connect. While I appreciated this effort, and we had some very good times, the truth is that it was often very strained. Still, it was progress.

The phone call came in September of 2006. My father told me that he had terminal cancer. I knew it was now or never. We kept in touch much more frequently and I drove down to Louisiana to spend a few weeks with him. I’m so glad that I did. Still, in the manner of people who have full hearts but do not feel comfortable expressing their emotions to one another, we left much unsaid.

When I learned of his death I thought that I would be able to close that particular chapter of my life. We had cared about one another, but truly not known each other as well as we probably could have. I really believed that it would be a matter of shedding some quiet tears and saying goodbye. Wrong.

What I found out was that I cared much more deeply than I knew. I relived and experienced feelings of loss and grief from my childhood on. I thought about the experiences that we had missed out on, the fact that he hadn’t attended my wedding and had never held any of my children when they were babies. I had to acknowledge the anger and resentment that I had felt at never feeling like I was a priority in his life. I had to acknowledge these feelings and allow myself to truly feel them before I was able to let them go. Of course, that meant that I also had to acknowledge my feelings of shame and guilt, I had to honestly take ownership of my part in this relationship. The finger pointing and blame game was not acceptable anymore. It was important to acknowledge and apologize for not making my feelings clear to him while he was still here.

Reiki helped me so much as I went through this process. After I went through the blame and anger I was finally able to acknowledge that someplace deep inside I had always known that my father really did love me very deeply. He simply did not demonstrate it in the manner I had somehow expected. Receiving Reiki on a regular basis and practicing life coaching skills helped me to move into a place of love and forgiveness, for both of us. To be honest, it took an awful lot of thinking about him, praying and meditating to be sure that he was aware now in the afterlife that I had always had very deep affection for him as well. Eventually, I was able to come to a place of peace.

So, here I am. More than two and a half years later I am now able to think about my father and smile. The bitterness, anger, and hurt needed to be allowed, acknowledged and finally released. Now there are the feelings of forgiveness and acceptance for both of us. There is the acknowledgment that few people live storybook lives where emotions and feelings are demonstrated to the expectation and satisfaction of all involved. Most of us feel that others should say or do things in a different manner to be most effective, but emotions and feelings are complicated and the should of, could of is irrelevant in the end. That’s just life.

I have no doubt that some of these feelings will resurface from time to time. Occasions of one sort or another may make me think about the way things actually happened or the way I wish they had been. But now they are much easier for me to deal with. I realize that while we both had our shortcomings, we actually did the very best that we could at the time. I have no way of knowing what was in his mind or heart in the past, but I am sure and always have been sure that he only wanted the best for me. That makes memories and resurfacing emotions much easier to allow and to move through with love, forgiveness, and blessings.

For me, it’s very important to remember that my memory is selective at best. My thoughts and emotions at the moment have always colored my memories and they always will. I can’t change the past, so I choose to appreciate and be grateful for the lessons I have learned. I choose to live in the moment. At the moment I choose to feel good. I choose to forgive myself and others. I choose to love. I choose peace at last.

I wish you a day of forgiving and allowing yourself to be forgiven. I wish you a day of love and blessings. I wish you a day of peace.

Warmly,
Sandy

Balance

If you ever read my blog, you know that I’m a holistic life coach. Why? Because I strongly believe that we must find balance in our lives to move forward in a meaningful way. That means that what happens in my personal life affects my social life, my business life, etc. That’s the holistic point of view.

Living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin I am surrounded by people who do not accept change quickly or easily, and yes, I am one of them. We tend to be pretty conservative in that respect. We like to think about things, talk it over and look from all angles. If we see a value, we generally give it a whirl. Once we experience value, we embrace this change and are staunch supporters. This is, of course, a generalization; however, I’m a prime example of this behavior.

I first experienced Reiki at the prompting of my son, Jeff. There were a lot of issues going on in my life, leaving me feeling physically, mentally and emotionally stressed. He recommended a Reiki master in the Milwaukee area. If I say that it changed my life I would be offering an understatement. Reiki helped me to bring balance into my life. Very important to someone who has a holistic point of view. I did have the attitude that comes naturally to most of us from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I had a million questions and prior to the experience, I was not ready to wrap my arms around the experience. However, after my first Reiki session, I knew I had found something profound that would change my life.

Reiki has been a valuable tool for me ever since my first experience. Because of that, I have become a Reiki practitioner myself, pleased to offer Reiki to family and friends as would request it. Now I’ve decided to make Reiki available to my coaching clients as well. Actually, it simply makes sense. The Reiki experience has helped me to experience calm and balance. When I work with life coaching clients we are striving to find a way to move forward in a positive, balanced manner.

Once again, a citizen of Milwaukee, Wisconsin has found a new experience, approached it carefully and come to embrace it enthusiastically. Some of us in Milwaukee may be a bit slow to experience something new to us, but when we do, if it proves to be a beneficial experience, it becomes something we stand behind.

Look for my website to be updated in the next week or so. It is my pleasure to offer Reiki to life coaching clients, but I am also very pleased to offer it to those who would simply like to experience Reiki on its own. My life is very good and I would like to share as much of this wonder, peace, and serenity with others as possible.

I wish you a balanced and fabulous day.

Namaste,
Sandy