I just finished re-reading ‘The Power of Moments’ by Chip & Dan Heath. (If you know this book, awesome! If you don’t… get yourself a copy!… There’s a reason I read it a second time around! :P)
I first read this book 2 years ago. One day recently, I started thinking about it. How I wanted to read it again. And refresh my memory of its many lessons.
Two days after that thought, the book ended up on my boyfriend’s doorstep… randomly, through a book exchange he was a part of…
Talk about synchronistic!!
I took it as a sign to start reading it again. It was just as good the second time around!
‘The Power of Moments’ a wonderfully inspiring book about how we can capitalize on and craft moments that have the power to be life-changing. (More on HOW in another blog post… :P)
One of the biggest takeaways from this book was:
The Power we have to Create Moments Through Simple Connection.
It is so easy for us to get lost in our day-to-day mundane tasks. We go through the motions; Do our jobs and cross things off our daily list.
Students, clients, and fellow staff members become 2 dimensional characters to us. It’s easy to forget there’s more beyond the surface of the people we interact with daily.
I know for myself, after working with the same students each day, it’s easy to lose sight of the human being behind the student. Too easy to focus on the daily to-do’s. Especially when it feels like there’s a million of them…
But the truth is: Our students, our kids, our coworkers, are more than just a number, or a ‘to-do’ to cross off a list.
They have their own identity. And with their identity, comes a whole background of experiences and moments that shaped them into who they are.
It is important for us to acknowledge each individual identity. After all, we are all different in some way. We’ve had different experiences that all led us up to this one moment. HOW we got here matters just as much, if not more, than the fact that we are here.
Its our human nature to want to be seen and heard. To be noticed and acknowledged.
The authors of this book suggest a reframe to our thinking…
Instead of always asking “What is the matter with you?”,
we simply ask instead “What MATTERS to YOU?”
See how powerful that statement change is?
We get lost trying to assess and fix problems, we often forget to consider the individual as a whole.. Their feelings and their experiences.
I wanted my students to know that they were loved and heard. I wanted them to feel appreciated, down to their very core.
During a Wednesday afternoon in Mindfulness Club, I brought in different coloured sheets of paper, markers, and crayons. I explained we would be mindfully working on a little project called:
“What matters to me!”
I reminded all of my students that although we are all in the same place, we all have different stories and backgrounds. There are certain things and experiences that make us, us. And how important all of our individual stories are. How those stories deserved to be acknowledged.
And so, we all had the opportunity in Mindfulness Club, that day, to create our own “What Matters to Me” poster (myself included!) so that everyone around us could see our stories. So they could see what lies beneath.
A one-day-project, turned into a whole-month-project!
Because my kiddos had so much they wanted to share about themselves!
They shared about their families and their experiences. About certain memories that stood out in their minds. About the things they liked and the things they didn’t. Some were personal. Some were sad.
All were so very beautiful in their own ways.
I learned a lot of things that day. About my students… About our own stories…
About making sure those stories are heard and understood.
What I’ll remember the most about that day, is the way their eyes lit up just because someone listened…
I really do believe it is as simple as acknowledging those around us.
Seeing them… I mean, really seeing them.
We all deserve to be seen.
And the most wonderful part about that…
Is thatWE have the power to give others the acknowledgement they deserve…
Do you understand and feel what others are feeling?
All of my life, I have been able to quite literally, FEEL the feelings of others.
When someone is going through a rough time, or having a bad day, in my head, I can instantly see all of the things that happened to them that led up to this feeling… I can feel exactly what they are feeling. I understand them.
And that feeling of empathy is magnified when it comes to my students..
Working at my little Elementary School, I’d met a lot of kiddos with some sad stories… some very tough starts to life.
They expressed their sadness through anger and tears.
And I felt it… deeply… So much that it would physically hurt.
I often wondered why I had been given this curse of being an empath…
I feel too much. Every heart break, every traumatic experience…
But over time (and with the help of a fabulous read that I’ll share below!), I shifted my perspective…
I realize now that being an empath is not a curse, it’s a gift.
Almost like having a super power!
To be able to completely feel and understand where someone is coming from. As much as it has the capacity to hurt… It can also heal…
You can truly BE there for that human being- fully present for that human being…
And being there, in complete understanding, can mean the world to someone.
So, if you are an empath, like me. And you hurt and feel the pain of others on a daily basis, just know that you have a gift!
The world needs your empathetic super power! Now, more than ever.
Trust me, I know it hurts. I know how hard it can be…
BUT, can you imagine what the world would be like without people like you and me?
I envision a world of isolation.. Beings who go through the motions each day.. Being who lack understanding and compassion.
And that is not a world I want to live in.
Pain is hard, but I’ve learned that I’d rather feel pain if it means also feeling joy.
Especially if it means that I can make a difference to one little someone. Anyone who might need someone to understand…
So… calling all you empaths out there…
You have a gift! And the world needs that gift!
P.S. Embrace the hell out of your superpower!
5 Powerful Tips to Take Care of Your Empathic Self:
As an empath, it is necessary to recharge yourself on the daily. We can easily be drained of our energy from day to day just through our emotions and feelings.
Here are some simple things you can do to recharge your battery:
Start the day off doing something for YOU!
It’s common in society for people to wake up at the last possible moment before rushing off to work or school. We get right into our days doing something for someone else, but this doesn’t allow us any time for ourselves. And at the end of a tiring day, it’s even harder for us to expend more energy on ourselves. We get left out. But when you jump start the day by doing something for you, it changes everything! And that something could really be anything, anything that fuels your soul… What do you enjoy doing? Journaling? Reading? Meditating? Yoga or some exercise? Whatever it is, make sure it is something you LOVE to do. Otherwise getting up a tad bit earlier will feel like a chore. Make it so you are EXCITED to get out of bed in the morning!
Get some good sleep (and probably a little more than you are currently getting)
This one is a given. Sleep is necessary for us to feel recharged. When we sleep, our brain and bodily systems have a chance to rest and restore themselves. The problem is, we don’t often give ourselves as much sleep as we need. Sleep looks different for everyone, so I’m not about to prescribe a ‘one-size-fits-all’ amount. But ideally, you want a consistent sleeping pattern and a nice deep sleep. Hitting REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep is so beneficial for our health! This is when we do most of our dreaming. REM sleep positively affects our moods, memory and brain development. Treating yourself to some deep REM sleep is a wonderful way to replenish your empathic self!
Unplug from Technology or go on a Tech Fast.
This one partially goes hand in hand with #2… Unplugging from all technology (yes, I’m talking about ALL screens- your phone, your tablet, even your tv!) 2 hours before bed will help you get to sleep quicker and have a deeper sleep. Also, there is value in going on a technology (or social media) detox. Being dependent on our technology can cause enough stress on its own- constantly feeling the NEED to respond right away, or comparing ourselves to instagram models… Taking some time apart from technology is freeing! Try a day or 2, or a week – you decide what you’re comfortable with. Don’t let it become stressful though or you’d be missing the point. Even setting some better limits on the amounts and time you use technology. Like: not using your phone first thing after you wake up, or limiting the amount of time you spend on social media on your phone. Unplugging from our technology every once in a while – however you choose to do it – is a gift.
Know your limits… and HONOUR them!
As an empath, sometimes saying no can be a hard thing to do. When your boss asks you to stay at work and earn some overtime, or a friend asks you to attend an event.. We empathize with them and easily cave in. Even if we are already running on empty… Awareness of this pattern is important because once you can spot it, you can start to say ‘no’ when you are feeling depleted. It’ll take some time building the ‘no’ muscle though, so don’t be too hard on yourself if at first you don’t succeed! To ease into it, don’t say ‘no’ right off the bat. Try saying things like “I’m not too sure, can I check my calendar at home and get back to you later?” Then, when you’ve had more time to process the priority of what you are being asked to do, you can get back to them with a confident “I’m sorry, but I won’t be able to make it this time! I have a prior commitment.” Being aware of your limitations and saying ‘no’ are crucial for all human beings! It’s impossible to pour from an empty cup.
Read books on Empaths! Especially THIS book: The Empath Experience: What to do When you Feel Everything by Sydney Campos
This book played a huge role in shifting my perspective from the empathic curse to the empathic gift. A friend of mine at work recommended it to me (I’m all about book recommendations so if you have any, send em’ my way!) and I am forever grateful to her for it. It definitely changed the way I viewed myself as an Empath. It allowed me to see my strengths instead of my weaknesses. I’ve been better able to deal with tough situations and tragedies because of it. Not that it means I don’t get affected by sadness anymore, but my awareness allows me to shift my thinking to seeing the opportunity… the opportunity I have to help.. And to make a difference. And that’s all most of us ever want to do… is make a difference…
Remember: Self-care is not selfish, it is essential!