Posted by Amela Koluder Tue, July 30, 2019 11:36:50
My mother has been ill for many years. Her illness is now in the last phase that might last for some months or some years. There are no regrets. We have been spending time together, sharing feelings and thoughts, successes and disappointments, ups and downs of daily life, travelling together, enjoying holidays. But still…
The circle of life is so fascinating. Despite the challenging situation, I discovered an unexpected feeling of gratitude - to be able to experience a new kind of love – taking care of parents, those who were the first to show me love. What a blessing!
I am experiencing a wide range of new insights, from health-related issues to emotional modes and human interactions. It is a process to be addressed simultaneously by emotions and logic, heavy training on the empathy muscle. It is all about EMPHATY – undoubtedly the most important life skill to train.
Empathy is an ability we are all born with. Unfortunately, like creativity, it is rarely systematically trained. Kudos to school systems that include empathy and collaboration in education.
Cognitive Empathy is ability to understand or comprehend another person’s feelings on an intellectual level. But to understand sadness is not the same thing as feeling sad. So, responding intellectually to a feeling can seem cold and detached.
Emotional Empathy is ability to fully take on the emotional and mental state of another. But feeling too much can create distress. So, responding emotionally to a feeling might be psychologically exhausting and make even small interactions overwhelming.
The answer is COMPATIONATE EMPHATY – ability to integrate
intellectual understanding and emotional resemblance. Feelings of the heart
and thoughts of the brain are not opposites – they are interconnected. So, responding
with compassion to a feeling honours another person’s state by considering both
the emotional and intellectual situation.
Some key learnings:
PATIANT IS ALWAYS RIGHT, EVEN WHEN SHE IS WRONG
Being patient is a challenge. You feel weak, dependent and out of control. But your instincts take over and you just know what you really need. As a patient you also need support, motivation and most of all encouragement – reasons to continue fighting. It is amazing how much we all focus on medication and almost forget healing effect of nutritious homemade meal - love and care on its best.
CAREGIVING IS MEANINGFULL AND REWADRING
More love you give, more you have. Compared to many other things in life putting an effort to help somebody in need, especially the love-one is so meaningful. You feel good about being able to help. You feel good about the effect of your effort. You feel good about your common experience, increased intimacy and deeper love. Just “being there” is underestimated. Please do not say to a somebody in a pain: “You have to be strong!” They don’t. You must be strong to let them share the pain with you, like a generous gift.
SELFCARE IS #1 PRIORITY
Neglecting yourself is the biggest mistake you can do. In order to be able to “give care”, you must put yourself as priority. You have to take breaks on a regular basis and if somebody else is in charged for an hour or a few days – you do not need to involve, worry or intervene. Be wise with your energy use and do practice companionate empathy first on yourself. Life must go on – crisis or not.
"The living and the dead,
The awake and the sleeping,
The young and the old are all one and the same.
When the ones change, they become the others.
When those shifts again, they become these again.
The beginning and the end of a circle are one.”
SARAJEVO/ Amela Koluder