Thursday, December 15, 2016

Cultivating a More Meaningful Life: The Power of Empathy

Married couple on a bench
Take a minute to think about your week. In the midst of all of the grocery shopping, laundry folding and email sending, what stands out as a bright spot? If you’re like most, you likely thought about time well spent with someone you care about. Sharing a laugh with a friend at the coffee shop or getting a much-needed hug from your partner on a particularly challenging day.

On the spectrum of life experiences, connecting with others on an emotional level is one of the most fulfilling. And, especially important for those in recovery. Having a solid and close-knit social network not only reduces your risk of depression and anxiety – it also reins in your risk of relapse.

If you’re on a journey towards sobriety, you can repair relationships that may have been neglected by an addiction to drugs or alcohol. And, it starts by simply developing a greater sense of empathy for others.

To start creating more meaningful connections with others, here are three ways you can cultivate a greater sense of empathy.

(1) Start a conversation with someone you don’t know. (Yet!) 
Make the effort to strike up a conversation with someone the next time you’re at a yoga class or on the subway. And, it’s more than simply going through the motions of talking about the weather. By cultivating a genuine sense of curiosity about the lives of others, you’re able to connect with them on a deeper level. Striving to understand their motivations, goals and emotions.

(2) Consider the “bigger picture”. 
Being able to interpret the actions of others in the context of their life story is one dimension of empathy. Instead of taking a reactionary stance to their actions (which may just fuel the fire), consider if they are going through a particularly rough day or chapter in their life. You might reconsider your response.

(3) Challenge judgment. 
When you are talking to a friend, coworker or a family member, it’s all too easy to internally criticize and judge them. But, in doing so, you’re blocking your ability to truly seek to understand them. This doesn’t mean that you have to agree with their values and actions. It’s simply about being an active listener with an open mind.

Transitional Living for Women: Family Addiction Counseling

At Rising Roads Recovery, we offer family addiction counseling. Using individual and group therapy sessions, the entire family unit can learn how to communicate more effectively, honestly and empathetically. To learn more about our comprehensive addiction recovery services for women, call (866) 746-1558.

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