I offer you a on-line and two day forgiveness course in Cape Town, Johannesburg, New York, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Chicago, Ontario, ‎Dublin and Auckland. Develop gratitude with grace and change your life with a universal truth.

Category: Empathy (Page 1 of 5)

How to Give to Others without Burning Out

In our stressed-out world, many healthcare providers, social workers, and caregivers are suffering from slow, yet painful burnout.

The rest of us, working long hours and raising families, seem to be approaching burnout, too. Sometimes we may feel that we’re too exhausted to keep giving to others, even though giving is a primary source of happiness in our lives.

So how can we keep giving without burning out? We’re told that self-care is the answer: Give yourself a treat; you deserve it. Take some time for yourself. Say no.

Indeed, a research review found that psychologists in training who practice more self-care report feeling less distressed and stressed and more satisfied with life. The question is: What does self-care look like, and how much of it do we need?

As it turns out, the trick is to be focused on and kind to others, but to balance that with taking care of yourself as well. Here are some practices to help you do that.

1. Self-compassion

One particularly potent form of self-care involves transforming our relationship with ourselves, in particular, practicing self-compassion.

Self-compassion is treating yourself as you would a friend – with kindness rather than self-judgment – especially when you fail. Self-compassion is remembering that we all make mistakes, instead of beating ourselves up. And it means being mindful of emotions and thoughts without getting overly immersed in them. Though self-compassion doesn’t mean you get to be indulgent or let yourself off the hook, it also doesn’t mean being too self-critical and harsh.

Elaine Beaumont at the University of Salford has conducted numerous studies looking at the impact of self-compassion on burnout and compassion fatigue. In a study of 100 student midwives – who routinely witness both the miracle of new life and the tragedies that can accompany childbirth – Beaumont and her team found that midwives who had higher levels of self-compassion also showed less burnout and compassion fatigue symptoms. The opposite was true of midwives who were highly self-critical. She repeated this study with different caretaker professions and found similar results in nurses and students training to be counselors and psychotherapists.

In addition to being protected against burnout, people who are more self-compassionate tend to report feeling less stress and negative emotions. They’re also more optimistic and feel more happiness and other positive emotions, among other benefits.

To practice self-compassion, try some of the exercises that pioneering self-compassion researcher Kristin Neff has studied and written about in her book on self-compassion, such as writing a Self-Compassionate Letter, taking a Self-Compassion Break, or asking yourself: How Would I Treat a Friend?

2. Social connection

Caring for ourselves also means seeking social connections to provide practical and emotional support when we’re struggling. A study of nurses found that belonging to a more cohesive group at work helps prevent burnout and compassion fatigue, reducing the effects of stress and trauma.

This should come as no surprise: Social connection, from birth to old age, is one of our greatest human needs. Social connection leads to lower rates of anxiety and depression, strengthens our immune system, and can even lengthen our life.

Researchers agree that social connection has less to do with the number of friends you have than with how connected you feel to the ones you have. In other words, you don’t have to be a social butterfly to reap the benefits; just aim to cultivate an internal sense of belonging with those around you.

How? The tricky part is that stress is linked to self-focus; our stressed minds turn towards me, myself, and I – making us even more miserable and disconnected from others. Meditation, yoga, breathing exercises, and walks in nature, as well as curbing caffeine, can all help us calm down and feel ready to reach out to others. A study we conducted at Stanford showed that loving-kindness meditation can be a quick way to nurture a sense of connection. Better yet, try meditating with a partner!

3. Empathy and compassion

It might seem counterintuitive that empathy – which includes attending to others’ struggles – would help us with our own, particularly for caregivers. But research in social workers shows that having more empathy can also prevent burnout. Brain-imaging research by Tania Singer suggests that compassion training can actually make you better at coping with other people’s suffering – helping you help others without paying the cost yourself.

One potential explanation for this finding is that, by developing feelings like compassion and empathy, we are protected from feeling distressed or overwhelmed in the face of suffering. When you truly connect with another person who is suffering, you can actually feel empowered and energized because you are inspired to uplift that person.

We’ve all had the experience of having a friend ask for help during a time of emergency. In these moments, we are usually capable of so much more than we imagined – we seem to find hidden reserves of energy. Afterward, we end up feeling much better than we did before.

Again, loving-kindness meditation is one way to start to cultivate empathy. When you speak with someone who is suffering, practicing active listening can help you provide comfort and support to them without having to solve their problems.

The benefits of giving

If we can figure out how to continue giving to others without suffering from burnout, we can expect to reap many benefits.

For example, volunteering can have a positive impact on health, with benefits for obesity, blood glucose, blood pressure, and longevity. Older volunteers can derive a great feeling of purpose and self-esteem from volunteering; research shows that it makes them feel happier, more connected to others, and more confident of their self-worth. The benefits of volunteering for well-being seem to be universal, holding across cultures as well as generations.

Other studies have found that we’re happier when we spend money on others, and that we experience more positive emotions when we engage in acts of kindness for others, rather than ourselves.

If you are shy or introverted or even have social anxiety, giving to others can actually still increase your happiness. Although giving tends to feel better when we connect with beneficiaries, for the truly shy or those who don’t have time, even kind acts conducted over the computer can increase well-being.

Self-compassion, social connection, and empathy are powerful forms of self-care – but that doesn’t mean that traditional self-care activities have no place in our lives. Keeping your spirits up with exercise, sleeping in, and making room for fun activities like movies or shopping are important. These pleasures give us short bursts of happiness that can help fuel us and keep us playful in life.

To complement these more physical pleasures, giving and connecting with others in positive ways will bring us long-lasting feelings of joy that come from a life of purpose and meaning. The balance between the two is a ripe recipe for a happy, long, and fulfilling life.

Habits of Highly Empathetic People

Empathy is one of the most useful social skills. Empathetic people know how to manage many different interpersonal situations. In fact, people love to be surrounded by empathetic people, because it makes everything easier.

Becoming familiar with the characteristics of highly empathetic people is very useful, whether you want to learn how to be more empathetic yourself, or seek out highly empathetic friends. Discover the habits of highly empathetic people and decide who you want to be and who you want to be with.

What are Highly Empathetic People (HEP) like?

Being empathetic and highly empathetic are not the same thing. The latter has more personal emotional risks associated with it, but it’s more rare and a quality that many great leaders have.

1 – Highly empathetic people challenge biases
We all have assumptions about others and use collective labels that keep us from appreciating their individuality. Highly empathetic people challenge their own preconceived notions and prejudices and commit themselves to finding things they have in common with other people, instead of focusing on their differences.

2 – They cultivate curiosity about strangers
Highly empathetic people have an insatiable curiosity about other people. They’ll talk to the person next to them on the bus or in the waiting room at the dentist, or in basically any situation.

Curiosity breeds empathy for people that are outside of one’s social circle. This allows empathetic people to discover worldviews that are different from their own.

Curiosity is good for people. Martin Seligman identifies curiosity as a key way to improve life satisfaction. He also says that it’s a useful cure for chronic loneliness, which affects many people.

Cultivating curiosity requires more than a brief chat about the weather. Fundamentally, it’s about understanding the world inside the other person’s head. Challenge yourself by trying to have a conversation with a stranger each week. All you need is courage.

3 – They put themselves in others’ shoes
Highly empathetic people utilize experiential empathy. Experiential empathy involves putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, in order to directly experience the life of another person.

4 – They listen and open themselves up
Empathetic conversationalists have mastered the art of listening, and open themselves up to others. Highly empathetic people do this to the extreme.

They listen with intention and attention towards other people and do everything possible to understand others’ state of mind and emotional needs. But listening alone is not sufficient. They take it one step further, removing their masks and revealing their feelings to others, which is vital for the creation of a strong empathic link.

5 – They inspire action and social change
People generally assume that empathy occurs only on the individual level, but highly empathetic people understand that empathy can also involve groups of people, and as such can provoke fundamental social change.

We can grow and develop empathy throughout our lives and use it as a radical force for social transformation. Researchers in the field of sociology have revealed how we can turn empathy into an attitude, into a part of our daily lives, and in doing so improve the lives of everyone around us.

« Older posts
I offer you two day forgiveness course in Cape Town, Johannesburg, New York, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne, Los Angeles, Chicago, Ontario, ‎Dublin and Auckland.