On Perspective and Empathy

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. A whirlwind of challenges swooping into my usually happy, upbeat daily existence. At work, a disgruntled client and a whiplashed team. At home, childcare logistical conundrums, preparations for a change of routine with school graduations and the start of camp. Nothing insurmountable, but enough to cause some self-doubt, angst, hand-wringing and yes, tears.

It’s very easy to get sucked into your own personal dramas. Especially if your energy is drained, your confidence is in a funk and there’s no clear path between each of the small obstacles cluttering your mind. Not to mention the crushing feeling when you put them all together – especially during the night when they conspire at the very edge of REM and blur reality with nightmares.

Truth is, my issues are wrinkles in the usual carefree life that I am incredibly lucky enough to enjoy.

But each of us has drama. These past two weeks I’ve heard of, shared, and listened to the dramas afflicting family, friends and colleagues. Sickness, divorce, heartbreak, death. On the flip-side of the doom and gloom, there have also been new babies on the brink of arrival, romances rekindled, achievements and breakthroughs.

A veritable slice of life.

I’ve been reminded that, to move through your own personal funk, you have to look outward. Perspective and empathy go hand-in-hand, each bolstering the other – a veritable renewable energy source. First, being able to express your woes to an active, empathetic listener helps you grieve, crystallize, process and ultimately, rationalize. Second, being the listener, providing an ear and a shoulder, as well as counsel if warranted, provides the source of focus, a mirror for perspective, new strength.

I’m not really sure where I am going with this, except to say that I’ve been on both sides of the fence and it’s actually very healthy. If all I do is bitch and moan about my issues, then quite frankly, I wouldn’t want to spend much time with me. But if, by being an empathetic listener, I can help – as well as find perspective to my own problems – then together we move forward.

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