Category Archives: Teens

Understanding Empathy

Understanding Empathy

Empathy has gotten a lot of press recently, and rightly so. Empathy fosters relational connections that transcend age, race, sex, culture, experience, belief, and circumstance.

Yet it can be difficult to express empathy in the midst of interpersonal conflict.

Here’s a quick primer on empathy and using it effectively:

  • Empathy is a way to leverage universal emotional responses to establish relational connections; it is not about adopting someone else’s feelings in order to show your support.
  • Empathy is not restricted by shared experiences; it requires neither specific understanding of a situation nor a shared perspective.
  • Empathy does not equate to agreement, approval, forgiveness, or even imply tacit acceptance.
  • Empathy does not exempt the recipient from facing the consequences of their actions; it is simply a compassionate acknowledgment of their feelings.

Empathy is hardest to express in the midst of conflict, but that’s when it’s most helpful. Just remember to focus on the emotion rather than the issue.

In a political argument with your brother-in-law, you don’t have to empathize with his position on gun control to empathize with his commitment to being a part of the decision-making process and his desire to do what is best for his country. “We may not see eye to eye on the methods, but I can appreciate how seriously you take this issue and your desire to make the best decision for our country.” Will this guarantee that things between you and your brother-in-law will be harmonious from that moment on…absolutely not! But it does allow you to act in a way that is congruent with the person you aspire to be rather than react to the tone set by someone else.

In a heated argument with your teen about attending an event, “I can tell that you’re angry about this decision and I know how frustrating it feels to not have authority over your own life. I hate that feeling too and I hate being in the position to make you feel that way, but I can’t give you the answer you want.”

Jill Howgate
jhowgate@growcounseling.com

Ways to be an Advocate and an Ally on National Down Syndrome Awareness Month

Ways to be an Advocate and an Ally on National Down Syndrome Awareness Month

I have the best little sister in the world. I’m not bragging though…this is just a fact! She’s kind, caring, a member of the Foster-Schmidt dance company, a huge fan of slapstick humor, and a devoted employee at the Johns Creek Police department. She also happens to have Down syndrome and a bonus 21st chromosome.…

Divorce: Dad or Mom left…now what?

Divorce: Dad or Mom left…now what?

Navigating divorce is difficult. There are many causes for divorce. A few of these are: Affairs Grown apart/fallen out of love Addiction Incompatible Divorce becomes even more complex when there are children involved. Many times, parents become bitter and angry towards each other and it is hard to treat each other respectfully. Even though it…

New Ideas for Resolutions

New Ideas for Resolutions

It can be easy to get stuck in the same routine where you make the same resolutions year after year.  I can’t count the number of times I have promised myself to drink less caffeine!  If you have tried the same few resolutions each year, why not try something different this year? Here are a…

Good Pictures Bad Pictures

Good Pictures Bad Pictures

Some researchers are citing the age of 8 – eight years old!! – as the average age of exposure to pornography. And – that’s an average. Meaning that kids also encounter pornography at ages even younger than 8. Prior to the Internet era children typically didn’t discover porn until age 11, 12, or 13. Then,…

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