Balance purpose, relationships, and self-care

Empathy works. It always does.

Self-compassion, day 7: Empathy

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empathy-quotesMy new client walks in with some apprehension. I bid her welcome and offer tea. She sits down and starts to talk. About everything that bothers her. Her concern for her mom, her struggling relationship with her husband, her worries about finances. I give her space to talk, non-stop, uninterrupted. I want her to know that I am here for her, that she is not alone in this, that I’ll support her the best way I can. She cries. She feels so much sorrow, grief, guilt, confusion.

She takes a breath. I reflect back what I heard her say, using her words. She looks at me surprised. “Yes, that’s exactly it, that’s exactly it.” She relaxes.

We are silent. We are connecting to ourselves, savoring what has been said.

Then she continues talking. Worries about losing relationships she cares about. Celebration of relationships where she receives acceptance for her choices. Her best friend, her sister, her colleagues. I share what I observe: her tears, her softening frown, her relaxing facial muscles. I guess her feelings, her needs. Simple empathy. She softens even more. She tells me how good it feels to just be heard, without being talked over. How grateful she is for my enthusiasm to work with her. How she appreciates the support and acceptance she is getting.

I look at her with a smile. I feel compassion for her. I see a woman who carries a lot of pain. A woman who has tried to carry this pain by herself, not wanting to burden anyone. I see a woman who is dedicated to bring more support, trust and acceptance in the world. A woman who is committed to work on herself, before judging others.

I feel honored that she chose me as her coach.

“Empathy is a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing.” Marshall Rosenberg

“Empathy is a strange and powerful thing. There is no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of “You’re not alone.” Brene Brown

If you want my help to deepen your self-compassion, healing and integration, contact me for a complimentary, discovery session.

Author: Elly van Laar

I am a coach. I specialize in helping professionals schedule time for relationships and self-care. I have a Master's degree in Political Science, Leiden University, the Netherlands. I love meditation, walking, gardening, biking, and hanging out with family and friends.

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