Trumping Trauma with Empathy

Trumping Trauma with Empathy
by Jami Keller
Mentor, Coach and Consultant

Marla and have been tracking the trauma that our culture is experiencing over the past couple of years. We see a significant increase in behavior associated with being overwhelmed. Frustration, anger, irritation and depression are the call words of the day. It does not have to be this way. You can experience joy no matter what’s happening around you! 

There is more to hope for and live into because the same powerful flow of information that brings us the stress of the world can also bring the healing. We have more people on the planet than ever before, and it’s frickin’ stressful. Resources are getting tight. In the last eighty years the world has undergone a significant cultural change. We simply have not had much experience as a species processing so much information. And especially the hurt of so many people.

You probably can feel what I am talking about, or you know someone who is making your life more stressful because they are wrapped up in the drama of it all. Marla and I rarely argue or experience pain between us anymore, but the last couple of weeks have been rough. We’ve had to take a step back, breathe, journal, forgive, and come back together ready for a better conversation. And that’s okay… Resilience.

There really is a lot to be positive about. The fact that there are more angry people making noise and hurting others, is giving us the signal that we need to band together and support each other, not tear each other down. Developing empathy is the first step to making a difference in the world. To have more empathy for others without becoming too overwhelmed requires a new level of resilience; new because our parents and grandparents did not experience what we are experiencing. Here are four steps to releasing your fear and stress today:

  1. Feel. Take stock of what it is that you are feeling. When you are processing so many emotions it’s easy to simply shut down. Marla and I realized that we are literally checking out of our emotions because things are so overwhelming around us. This checking out contributes to the chaos for all of us because when we are not aware of our feelings and we are not able to get what we need before we are overwhelmed. By tracking your feelings with the Feeling Wheel 4.0 you will start to realize how many feelings you are having, and you can give those feelings the names that you and others can relate to easily.
  2. Forgive. Remember to be kind to yourself, do this by forgiving the people, situations and circumstances that are bringing you what we call “Northside” feelings on the Feeling Wheel. Read our other blogs on forgiveness if you need to learn more about forgiveness. And please know that we all can learn more about it, there is never enough of it and we often forget to follow through with reminding ourselves that it is not a one time one day thing. Sometimes it takes fifteen times of forgiving something before we really start to feel the difference it makes. And remember to forgive yourself as well (yes, you need it).
  3. Empathize. Take a look at those closest to you, and realize that they are probably overwhelmed as well. And take a look at those that are not so close to you, those whom you believe are causing the problems. I can guarantee that they are overwhelmed and hurting as well. Allow their feelings to be real even if you disagree with what they are saying or doing. They are people doing the best they can (HERE’s more on this). By spending time attempting to understand what the other people on this planet are going through you will begin to see the problems of the world more clearly and be able to see where we can band together for the best solutions. The best hope of the world is that we each can point our feelings of anger and overwhelm of injustice and pain into productive activities, being a part of a community that supports and energizes the good tools that we have never had before in the world’s history.
  4. Serve. Get involved in a positive way. It does not have to be difficult or overwhelming to help your neighbor, even if that neighbor is half the world away. When you have true empathy you are drawn to work from your strengths and passion to help others where you feel energized to help. If you have no idea where to start, do some journaling on this to discover what those passions may be.

Empathy will change the world on person at a time, one community at a time… Just do it! 

P.S. If you want some help with fostering and growing empathy, contact us for your Free Discovery Call!