Tag Archive: empathy

Rich and Cindy Erasmus

my friend, Rich Erasmus, has been married for seventeen years to his lovely wife Cindy, and has some nuggets of wisdom to share with us in the area of one way you can love your spouse better:

‘I would say one of the most important ways that I have “learned to love my wife better”, is through a technique I was introduced to during an “Imago” course.

Bottom line … I learned to listen to my wife better (never a bad thing).

Picture a husband and a wife sitting, facing each other with their knees touching.

The wife says “Hubby, I want to speak with you about you being at work when the kids and I really need you.”

Hubby replies “Wifey, I hear you saying that you want to speak with me about me being at work when you and the kids really need me.”

He then asks “Did I hear you correctly?”

If she says “Yes, you did”, then he asks the next question “is there more?”

… and so the conversation continues … until she says “that is all”.

It’s a conversation that is (at the end of the day) very one sided, in that the “sender” (in this case the wife) is determining the direction and the content of the whole conversation.

The “receiver” (hubby) has the humbling role of listening carefully (no … not justifying / explaining / contradicting / adding or interpreting), mirroring accurately (saying exactly what has just been said to him) and then inviting more explanation.

Let me admit that at first (if done properly) it is a super awkward tool … but man alive, it has really taught me a thing or 2 about genuinely listening to the heart of my wife, without belittling / undermining her.

I wish I could explain more (it is bigger than the above sample) … but I guess the bottom line is that effective communication often falls apart in a marriage purely because effective listening is a forgotten art.

If we are prepared to take the “weaker position” of just sitting, listening and asking for more explanation … I wonder how much more sympathy and empathy would enter the marriage … and out of that how much more love and connection.

Hope this helps someone.

Have a great day.

Rich E’

[to continue on to hear what Brett Fish has to say about Loving them in the way they best receive it, click here]

My Strength as a Weakness

If you were asked to define the word sympathy, you would probably say it’s the act of feeling sorry for someone. You have heard of something bad or sad happening in someone elses life and acknowledge that it is in actual fact bad or sad and you feel for the person going through that situation, and you would probably be right…

What if you were asked to define empathy? Hmmm, good one… What does empathy mean? Well I have literally spent most of my life trying to figure and live that out… Why? Well, because believe it or not, empathy happens to be one of my strengths – seriously!! Empathy can be a strength? Yes! I had no idea but I found out a couple of years ago, and although I wasn’t surprised (it was part of my personality, I had grown with it, so I knew it all along) how could it possibly be one of my strengths? Aren’t strengths supposed be cool.. Like ambition and determination and passion, you know things that make you BIG in life…? Apparently not, even the so called “softies” can be included as strengths too.

So I’m empathetic, and it’s considered to be one of my strengths (I’m a people’s person – what can I say?) but I have also recently discovered that if not well managed, this incredible strength can become a weakness (like any strength really) and I am evidence of that.

Just in case you don’t already know it, being empathetic means you can relate to a person’s situation. You not only feel sorry for them, but you actually feel what they feel; you can actually put yourself in their shoes. It’s an emotional connection and it can be very effective, especially when counseling people. Usually, you can put yourself in their situation and walk the journey to “recovery” alongside them. However, when the feelings overpower you to the point of incapacitation, you are no longer effective. You become so wrapped up in the emotions, that you are suddenly the victim
in need of counseling, on something that you are feeling through someone else.

And that is my strengths weakness, I get so caught up in the emotions, I am unable to help the person out of what they are currently facing. It can get so bad, that I have let the scenarios cause insecurities and fear and complacency. Eventually, causing me a great deal of frustration, while leaving me in a rut, one I don’t seem to get out of easily, even though the person it initially affected has moved on. Now imagine that happening with every scenario I come across, with every person I meet, every person going through a tough time., that’s enough to hold me back for a life time!

So how do you strengthen the weak side of your strength (we aren’t perfect and we certainly do not have it all together, but we can work on it)? Well, it’s all about steering that strength in the right direction. It’s about understanding it and controlling it instead of it controlling you. Take passion for instance. Some people can be so passionate, their drive, if not well managed, can cause others to feel intimated and see the as over-confident, arrogant and annoying. Someone who’s a bit of a perfectionist, can come across as bossy and self obsessed.

But when you become aware of the weak side of your strength, you can work on strengthening it. So instead of being in everyone’s face and driving them crazy about how much you love music and it’s arrangement, for instance, you could use that passion, that enthusiasm to train others, not to tell them what to do and how to do it, but helping them gain the passion and enthusiasm for their own musical journey. It means seeing the potential in others and nurturing it until they are capable of acknowledging it and striving to improve it.

And so it is with every strength. My empathetic nature overwhelmed me. Ultimately, it means, putting ourselves aside, cause that’s when a strength is successful, when we’re putting the needs of others ahead of our own, using the very traits that make us, us!

This means that you have not only understand your strengths but also the weaknesses behind them. In my case, I have to embrace the feelings I experience from different people’s situation, but I cannot let them overwhelm me. I cannot let them take over my thinking, I cannot let them rule… I need to rule them.

check out Tshego’s crazy show page [i met her when she was radio djing a show and she dangerously invited me to come vibe] for more on this crazy, passionate woman…

carry on reading for my friend Sharné’s Strength Weakness of INCLUSIVITY

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