• Nicole Nemiroff, MA LMFT

A few words on Shoes

Updated: Feb 17, 2019

Welcome to my blog. I'll try to write at least once a week, but at first, I might get busy and put out quite a bit of posts!

I am really interested in exploring #EMPATHY. Also know as the art of "stepping into someone else's shoes"!

I am a #HSP (highly sensitive person) and so empathy hasn't always been my strong suit - it was a detriment before I learned about how to use it to my #advantage. Let's just say I have a lot of it.

I learned how to use it to help my relationships at work, with family, my community, and my even myself!

I have passionately worked with children with #Autism for over ten years. A lot of that work - ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) and otherwise involve developing social-emotional skills (SES). So I have picked up a few tricks here and there and worked on it within myself -- a lot!

My #belief: life is full of random challenges and struggles. We all have inherent strengths - and have developed skills in our life. Who we are is a mixture of randomness, effort, and our social environment. When taking empathy into consideration, I lean on this perspective.

What is empathy?

Two things. One - the ability to recognize a feeling in someone else . . . to "step in their shoes". Two - the ability to communicate to others with a demonstrated awareness of their feelings.

So, it has to be both. Sometimes, you can fake it - but that's not real empathy.

You can feel it when someone is showing you empathy. You can feel it when you are empathizing, too.

Tip: You can grow empathy in a lot of different ways. Start #observing strangers. Go somewhere with a friend and just "people watch". Make up stories. Imagine - based on their body language and facial expression - what is going on for them.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Find the subject of your observation. You can use the image above, if you would like.

2. Notice what happens in your body when you observe - are you tight anywhere, tingling, etc.? What happens to your breath, heart rate, etc.? Do you imagine what the rest of the the person looks like?

3. Notice ways you relate - have you been in a similar situation? Do you notice if you look like the same race? Same Socio-economic background? What do you imagine about what you are seeing? Is what you are seeing totally foreign? Does it alienate you? Does it bring up a memory?

4. Notice judgements or thoughts that come to mind. (Don't worry - judgement is a part of the human experience. It's ok.) ex: "that looks awful", "how magical", "I would like to do that", even - "they are dumb", and so on. See if you can acknowledge your judgements. Coexist with them. Have compassion with yourself if you find that your judgements seem negative. If you are indeed noticing negativity, ask yourself - is some part of me experiencing pain as I look at this?

5. See if you can pin-point a single feeling word to capture the feeling you get when you imagine what is going on for the person you are observing. (More on identifying feelings in the next post...)

You just practiced Empathy! Ideally, we are all shown a lot of mirroring and attunement as children - this can really help to foster empathy in tiny beings (aka children). No one grows up in a perfect environment, however! Try practicing those mindfulness + empathy steps you just practiced daily. I promise you will notice a difference. Read on to some of my other blog posts for more on the subject of stepping into someone else's shoes.

#shoes #empathy #therapy #social #emotional #feels

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