How to be present when others are losing it

Do you struggle to know how to be present with someone when they are upset or angry, or when you are tired or going through it yourself? I’m very often struck by how people can lack the ability to “be with” people emotionally, especially those who work professionally with people in challenging situations. It’s like our buttons get pushed or we feel inadequate or lack the resources we need. Somehow, people say, they “aren’t qualified” to handle it. When people kick off I remember once on a Gestalt training course unpacking a whole load of grief around the impact of … Read more

Are we losing our ability to have empathy and to connect?

We must have all done it, a gathering round the dinner table, and there’s a quiet moment as everybody is on their phones or tablets, with snippets of conversation in between. Perfectly normal, you might think: everybody is checking their phones. Except that that is what occurs a lot right through the year where people are together or alone. This world is now getting brilliantly connected. Yet do we notice any disconnect with others we’re with, our lack of attunement to others, that we don’t have empathy? Being a big user myself but also a coach of relationship and interpersonal … Read more

Feeling empathy needs not to cloud your judgement

In the emotional stakes it is good to see empathy now playing a big part and yet there are cautionary points to be made. Just because you empathise with someone doesn’t mean you do what they want, but it can play a powerful part in building bonds and connections and in influence. In the last US Presidential election Obama was able to make great play of his opponent’s perceived lack of empathy. For example he was able to portray Romney as uncaring with regard to the alleged 47% of the population who he said was government-dependent. Thus whether you are … Read more

Forgiveness can mean you need to let go of something

Forgiving another can be the really hard bit in dealing with a problem in relationships. Yet that’s so often what we’re told to do, forgive. But is this true forgiveness? Part of the problem lies in the term itself. People associate forgiveness with “letting people off”, as though what we are supposed to do is go and say, “You’ve done this but I forgive you.” This can be really difficult, especially as there’s things like hurt pride and a lingering sense that the other person was really at fault. So we have blame involved and we also don’t want to … Read more

Letting go can be so hard to do

You might hear people say, when someone is struggling with a problem or challenge, “why not just let go of it”? Letting go can sound easy to say, but it can also be really hard. Like letting go of relationships we’ve been in, breaking up with someone we love, where we’ve invested a lot of energy and emotional capital. You might know you need to let go of a situation you are in but a part of you just keeps on at it, like a dog with a bone. When a separating couple are in dispute and won’t let go … Read more