5 Blocks to Empathy: How to Hurt Your Love

5 blocks to empathy“I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.”                                 Maya Angelou

Now that we’ve talked about what empathy is and why it is important, it can be easy to wonder why more people don’t practice it more often. As with most human characteristics and behaviors, there is more to the story than meets the eye.

Empathy has to be developed. It is taught and practiced. We learn through words, actions and the experiences we have with important caretakers in our life. As we have pointed out before, when our teachers are less than adequate, we don’t progress as far as we could.  Blocks can and will develop that greatly hamper or prevent our ability to be empathic. Continue reading

Empathy: A Way to Make Love Grow

Empathy: The Way to Make Love GrowEmpathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.  (Daniel H. Pink)

Empathy is more than a word in a quote posted to someone’s Facebook page in an attempt to be poetic.  It’s a key ingredient in fostering loving and caring relationships. Being able to experience a situation from someone else’s point of view is a requirement for creating intimacy. Continue reading

Happiness Quota: How Happy Are You Allowed to Be?

Happiness QuotaImagine this scene: A mother is in the hospital just having given birth to her baby. She is excited and happy. The nurse gives her the newborn. The baby turns her head toward mother and snuggles.

The baby is searching for warmth and comfort. The child probably is not hungry because it has just spent nine months with all its needs met. The baby is mostly traumatized and seeking comfort and safety. Continue reading

Memorial Day: Remembering and Grieving

Memorial Day: Remembering and GrievingSeveral years ago, I had the pleasure of celebrating Memorial Day in a small town in a rural area. Families and friends gathered to celebrate. There was a band, picnic baskets, banners and American flags galore. There was even a small but enthusiastic parade. Veterans of all ages and the women and men who loved them marched down the street with joy, pride and gratitude. They were proud of the brave men and women who served their country in life and death. They were grateful for the peace they lived in everyday.


The parade ended with the playing of “Taps”.  The sorrowful song brought tears to many eyes. The thought reminds me that because Memorial Day celebrates and remembers the men and women who died in the service of their country, there are many people who will spend this day in deep grief.  They will be grieving for the people they love: mothers, fathers, children, grandchildren, lovers and friends. These people are still in the throes of acute grief that has not yet healed. For them, today will be a difficult and painful day.

Like Memorial Day, “Taps” invites people to slow down, pause and feel what it is like to celebrate those who have gone before. It is an invitation to reflect on your own life; to be grateful to be alive and able to live in a country where we have the freedom to choose how we want to live.


Take some time today to remember that not everyone is celebrating, but some are grieving. Take stock of all you have and all you don’t have. Take time to be grateful for what you do have and ask yourself, “What more do I really need?”

Soon after “Taps” was composed, lyrics were written to go with these beautiful and haunting notes. The words are equally as beautiful:memorial day

                    Day is done, gone the sun, 

  From the lake, from the hills, from the skies;

             All is well, safely rest. God is nigh. 

Patterns, Maps and Finding Your Way In Relationships

Patterns, Maps and Finding Your Way In RelationshipsWe become who we are through relationships. Our early relationships shape and mold our internal maps of who we are, what we believe about other people and our expectations. These maps are largely unconscious until they begin to emerge in our important relationships.

Maps to guide us

These maps and the patterns they contain are acted out dramatically in our romantic relationships, but they also play out in less intense ways in all our relationships: with friends, with co-workers, even with children.

We are taught what love means in these early relationships. Those lessons become our “conditions for loving.” They come from how we were treated, how people talked to us, and how people talked about us in those early years.  They are the patterns necessary for us to feel loved.

These conditions will determine who we love and who we choose to be within relationships, both romantic and platonic. Everyone has conditions for loving

Continue reading