Tag Archives: empathy

How To Help Your Adult Child With A Mental Illness

I often meet parents whose adult children who are suffering from a mental illness such as anxiety, depression or anorexia, or who are suicidal. When I hear these parents talk about how they're dealing with this situation, they often appear very stoic. They say things like “I need to be strong in order to support my son”, or remark that “I've told them that they are very strong”.

At the same time, I often notice my own feelings of emotional disconnection around these same parents during our interactions. They often talk a lot about themselves in great analytical detail but without much real emotional engagement, and rarely ask me about my own life or how I feel.

Empathy is the key to helping your adult child with a mental illness

I sense that they're avoiding something in our conversations: a sense of emotional connection.

Unfortunately these behaviors are exactly the opposite of what a person with a mental illness needs in order to feel the sense of emotional safety, love and support that could potentially heal their brain and help them through a time of deep crisis.

While all parents instinctively love their adult children, mentally ill people need to be surrounded by love and support that they can actually feel.… Continue reading…

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How To Deal With Someone Who is Upset

Many men (and women for that matter) in our society don't deal with their emotions well. As a result, most of us are walking around carrying an ever-increasing accumulation of emotional baggage that can get triggered even in seemingly innocuous situations.

People who are upset need empathy, not judgement.

For an example where this happened to me, check out my recent story on Why I Got Upset In Guitar Class. I'll wait here while you do that...

... OK!

Dealing with people who are upset can be very challenging. Part of what makes this challenging is that other people's emotional upset is likely to trigger our own unresolved emotional baggage. This is why many people try to shut down expressions of unpleasant emotions in other people or resort to "rescuing" behaviors intended to stem the flow of another person's feelings that are making us uncomfortable. Naive rescuers often think they are "helping" because they see the upset person appearing less outwardly distressed; but the upset person is simply internalizing their emotional pain which has disastrous consequences for everyone in the long run.… Continue reading…

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How To Work With An Empathy Buddy

What Is An Empathy Buddy?

Get A Male Empathy Buddy

Get A Male Empathy Buddy

An empathy buddy is a great way to receive some non-judgmental emotional support from another person, without having to spend big dollars on therapy. They can be particularly valuable if you:

  • Have difficulty identifying or expressing your feelings or needs
  • Feel isolated and in need of connection
  • Don't trust other men to treat your feelings with respect
  • Need ongoing emotional support

An empathy buddy isn't a replacement for a therapist; if you have emotional wounds from the past that are causing you fear or anxiety in your day-to-day life, get a therapist. But if you're looking for another way to expand your emotional vocabulary, reduce your emotional isolation or manage feelings of shame you may have about your emotions, an empathy buddy can be a great way to do it.

The idea is to have a buddy who listens to where you're at without judging you and occasionally reflects back how you're feeling and what your needs are. I suggest talking to your empathy buddy on a regular basis, such as every week or fortnight. Like any relationship, it may take a little while to feel fully comfortable with your empathy buddy, but following the guidelines below will help you build trust and rapport together more quickly.… Continue reading…

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Nonviolent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg

Hey, it’s Graham here again and if you were to ask me the question, “What’s one book that you could read that would help you to improve your communication skills, get on better with women and men, help you deal with conflict better, make you a better person, just make your life flow more easily and generally improve the quality of life here on the planet?”, one book every human should read is this one.

It’s called Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg. Let me try to hold it straight. And I highly, highly, highly recommend this book. In fact, I would say if you are only able to read one book on personal development or self-help or whatever, how to live a better life, anything, how to self-actualize, this would be the book to read.

Continue reading…

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How To Treat Each Other With Respect

If you have someone in your life who treat you in ways that leave you feeling unsafe, propose introducing these Ground Rules For Emotionally Safe Communication in that relationship.

respectAgreeing to these ground rules in all our communication helps us both to feel safe and have our feelings respected. They are particularly important during challenging conversations when we are triggered with anger, sadness, fear, guilt and/or shame. We commit to applying them even when we are most upset.… Continue reading…

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How To Cure Your Mental Illness

Rates of mental illness are rapidly increasing in the Western world. Depression and anxiety have become common place, and they're just the tip of the iceberg compared to more severe mental illnesses such as bipolar, schizophrenia and so-called personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder.

Our intellectually dominant society is a breeding ground for mental illness.

So why has mental illness become such a problem in a society which offers more opportunity, longer life expectancies and greater possibility than ever before? What causes mental illness, and how can it be cured?

I'm not a psychiatrist or doctor so don't take what I say as medical advice, but my opinion is that virtually all mental illness is caused by a build-up of psychological pressure in the primitive emotional centres of our brains. The cure is to learn how to release this pressure in a safe environment with empathy from another human being.… Continue reading…

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How To Connect More Deeply With Women

I was recently coaching a friend of mine who is highly successful in business, but really struggles when it comes to connecting with women. What I noticed most strongly in our conversation was that my friend talked mostly about what he thought, and very little about how he felt. This was a strategy that served him well in the business world, but didn't work so well when it came to establishing connections with women.

Man and Woman Connecting

Photo Courtesy PhotoXpress.com.

If you want to connect more deeply with women, emotions are the key. Most of us guys have received a great deal of education on how to think, but very little on how to handle feelings. We rarely disclose how we feel to other people, and we aren't good at acknowledging other people's emotions either.

Our emotions are a deeply powerful part of our experience of life, which is why they are so important in connecting more deeply with other people. Women are generally much more aware of how they feel than us men are, partly because they're biologically wired that way, and partly because they've usually spent a lot more time talking over their feelings with their girlfriends. Most men on the other hand are often out of practise when it comes to relating emotionally, because it's often been seen as weak, or as a poor second to relating intellectually.… Continue reading…

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How to Feel Confident in Conversations

The way we speak in conversation with other people says a lot about how confident we feel, yet we're often unaware of the subtle nuances of the way we're communicating and the resulting message we're sending about our self-image to other people. Simply changing the way we converse can boost our general level of confidence. When we hear ourselves communicating more effectively it reminds us of our innate power and inner confidence. And when others experience us as a powerful communicator, we connect better, gain greater trust and respect, and become the sort of person other people want to be around.

So here are some simple, easy ways to converse with greater confidence:

Be Clear and Direct, Avoiding Waffle

Ever notice how some people you talk with say the same thing over and over, rephrasing their point in different ways without ever stopping to ever see if you got it or not? As they waffle on and on, you find yourself losing interest and feeling confused about what it is they are really saying.

Confident communication is clear, direct and succinct. The fewer words you can make a point in, the more powerful it will be. Strunk and White's advice in their classic book on writing The Elements of Style is equally applicable when speaking: make every word tell.… Continue reading…

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How to Have Better Relationships With Women

Here's a story with some relationship advice for you. I took my Dad out to dinner last week as his 79th Birthday gift. He is actively downsizing in preparation for moving into a retirement village with my mother, so I appreciate that the last thing he wants is a physical gift from me. He'd much rather have some quality time together.

Unfortunately we have slightly different definitions of "quality time". As my father droned on and on over dinner telling me story after boring story, I felt myself shutting down and becoming increasingly frustrated and angry with him. He lives in his own little world, oblivious of the effect his words have on other people. I used to wonder why it was that as an adult, I found myself pushed away by his stories all the time and began feeling resentful every time he launched into one. Now I know, and the simple answer has the power to totally transform relationships:

My Dad's stories have no emotional content.

Over the past few years, I've been studying the broad spectrum of human communication. Here are some of the things I've learned from the various different fields I've studied:

  • To be a powerful public speaker, you must tell stories that engage your audience's emotions.

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