Empathy an Intro

I think its easy to attack without considering the consequences of our actions. It is easy to say something is bad simply because it fails to meet our paradigm of thought. Critical thought is hard, to stay on course with its edicts we must follow its teachings and consider others. It teaches us to explore our thoughts and feelings. To develop an understanding of our ideology and find ways to bridge our world with others. It teaches us to consider the thoughts and feelings of others. To imagine what it is like to be them, so we can treat them fairly based on their circumstance.

What good does any of this do if we don’t know how to apply these teachings to our daily lives? An expert isn’t born, to be proficient in a skill we must practice. Practice is more than memorization, it is exploration and experimentation as well. We can sit behind old books all day learning what the dead say about body language and tonality, but this equates to nothing if we are unwilling to explore our skills.

What is empathy? “the ability to share someone else’s feelings or experiences by imagining what it would be like to be in that person’s situation.” [1]

How do we use the skill of empathy? How can I imagine what it would be like if the situation could never conceivably happen to me? Empathy requires imagination, you must have the ability to see something that doesn’t exist. If imagining something like this is outside of your capacity I suggest exploring a few new hobbies. Consider going to your local hobby store to join a role-playing group, get involved in a game where you can play a character and experience an imaginary world. Perhaps find a local writing group and explore fictional writing or experiment with art. If your mind is no longer in touch with your heart it will be very difficult imagining what it would be like to be in another person’s situation.

Mind Tools presents a good primer to practice empathy.

Empathy at Work [2]

  1. Put aside your viewpoint, and try to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  2. Validate the other person’s perspective.
  3. Examine your attitude.
  4. Listen
  5. Ask what the other person would do.  

I would suggest giving their interpretation of empathy a good read, you can find this article at: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/EmpathyatWork.htm.

 

To empathize with someone, we need to imagine we are them. What would it be like to be them in this situation. If you were them, how would you feel? If you were them, how would you want to be treated?


[1] “Empathy” Dictionary. Cambrdge Dictionary. Web. 12 December 2017. < https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/empathy>

[2] “Empathy at Work” Mind Tools. Web. 12 December 2017. < https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/EmpathyatWork.htm.

Empathy

Empathy – Boundaries – Personal Advocacy

Empathy is essential when establishing and enforcing our boundaries. When we use the word empathy we are referring to intellectual empathy. What does that mean?

“Understanding the need to imaginatively put oneself in the place of others to genuinely understand them… It correlates with the ability to accurately reconstruct the viewpoints and reasoning of others and to reason from premises, assumptions, and ideas other than our own. This trait also requires that we remember occasions when we were wrong, despite an intense conviction that we were right, and consider that we might be similarly deceived in a case at hand.” [1]

A challenging but useful exercise is to imagine yourself as someone else. Let your eyes find someone nearby, now look at their shoes. Imagine what it would feel to be wearing those right now. How do you think they would feel? Now think about someone you know, perhaps someone who’s hurt your feelings recently. Ignore your feelings and imagine being them. What do you think they were feeling at the time when they were hurting you? Why do believe they were feeling this? What if you’re wrong? What else could they have been feeling at this moment?

We are going to do an exercise, first I want you to write down the premise they were acting from when the event occurred. Next, what assumptions might they have been operating from and finally what do you think their thoughts, opinions or plans were?

Intellectual empathy is an effective critical thinking tool. When implemented correctly it serves as a valuable resource to establish and enforce personal boundaries. It also helps us identify the walls of others. With this information we improve our ability to treat others fairly while encouraging them to do the same.

[1] Paul, Richard, and A. J. A. Binker. Critical Thinking: What Every Person Needs to Survive in a Rapidly Changing World. Foundation for Critical Thinking, 2012.

Empathy – Critical Awareness

Empathy

When empathy becomes reality, your empathy has failed you.  Watching someone experience something is not the same as experiencing it.  This goes both ways.  It is not fair to claim you know something, when you don’t.  This post is about exploring the reality of cancer, our perception, empathy and our roles.

Empathy

Perception

Recently I was having a conversation with a friend.  She said that I wasn’t appreciating her and that I haven’t given her that appreciation for six months.  I told her that the reason was because I was going through chemotherapy.  She said that chemo was no excuse, then continued to say that she knows what chemo was like because her father went through it.  Her father was able to make her feel appreciated while he was going through treatment, so I should have too.

I told her that chemo was not an excuse, that it was a reality.  That for the last six months I’ve faced the most terrifying and painful experience of my life.  Things that she has never experienced and has no true understanding of.  That she would never understand what it feels like until she’s gone through chemotherapy (something I hope she never does).  I told her that I’m not her father, boyfriend and she is not my daughter and my role in her life is not as a significant other or parent.  That it sucks to feel unappreciated and as her friend I wished her feelings were not hurt.

Empathy

Friends do things that we may sometimes consider deplorable.  Her comment could easily be considered as such.  In the moment I was calm and didn’t allow it to hurt my feelings.  Later my feelings were hurt by it a little bit, but I vented to my significant other.  Then those bad feelings dissolved.

Friendship is about more than just the good times.  Sometimes we say things when we are really stressed that hurts those close to us.  I believe the fair thing to do here is to accept what they say as stress and move on.

Roles

If you have a loved one with cancer, it doesn’t mean you know what the experience of cancer is like.

Just because you…

  • have walked with someone in their cancer journey doesn’t mean that you know what its like to have cancer.
  • watched someone go through chemotherapy doesn’t mean you know what its like to go through chemotherapy.
  • know someone who went had surgery, doesn’t mean you know what its like to go through surgery.
  • know someone who had radiation treatment, doesn’t mean you know what its like to experience radiation treatment.

If you have cancer, it doesn’t mean you know what its like to watch someone you love suffer through cancer.

Just because you…

  • have cancer doesn’t mean that you know what its like to watch someone go through cancer.
  • went through chemotherapy doesn’t mean you know what its like to watch a loved one go through chemotherapy.
  • had surgery, doesn’t mean you know what its like to be there for someone going through surgery.
  • went through radiation treatment, doesn’t mean you know what its like to watch someone go through radiation treatment.

If you would like to read about the journey of cancer feel free to continue your exploration by clicking on this link.

Roller-coaster of Empathy

Thoughts from 2015

 

Would you rather feel a refreshing breeze against your skin on a hot muggy day, or be locked into a colorful cart with thirty people?  Of course the later would also include being launched down a rail of adrenaline pumping, super twirly twisting roller coaster awesomeness.

Personally I would prefer the refreshing breeze, but I am not one to pursue thrills on rails, or amusement parks for that matter.  I’m typically the buzz kill cause I want to treat myself with a few water rides and then head on home.

Life is kind of like an amusement park, we have all these colorful sights, all sorts of people, a million lines and lots of roller coaster rides.  Of course I can’t know exactly what another person feels, but I do know this is how my life is.  Its in my nature to experience these highs and lows, twists and turns, thrills and chills.  I love how I’ve had the opportunity to experience an incredible range of human emotion.  I have tasted the bitter breath of death, while standing at the edge of oblivion.  I have melted under the rush of a mushy gushy lovey dovey crush.  I’ve squealed while dancing head over heels and experienced the greatest pinnacle of joy.  I’ve had moments where I believed myself to be superhuman and I’ve had moments where I felt no more than a squished bug.

The importance of all of these experiences is they have allowed me to empathize with the world.  They have given me the sight to see from another person’s eyes.  They have shown me that even at the worst of times, when I want to kick off my shoes and jump to the next life, that we can choose to turn around and hitch a ride, to continue our adventure in the road of life.

see

See, Open your eyes and…

Witness the world for the first time

The forest may be lush and green. It may be truly serene but not everything is happy and healthy in this scene. In this flowery forest are fights, bites and bitter cold, and whole lives are spent fighting for control. Though there are many first breaths there just as many deaths. It is a haunting place, a daunting land, a heavenly haven and a spectacular space.

Life, like this place is simple and comforting, complicated and crazy. It is wonderful and woeful, educated and ignorant. It is many things, but easy is not one.

What we see is not always what we get and what we do is not always true.
Sometimes we are sad swinging through the trees, even though we look happy to all who can see.

The illusions and the darkness in the forest can set you free the moment you decide to see. It is not the veil on your face that steals your sight, it is your hiding eyes that conceals the light. When you open your eye you will see we are fighting to simply be.

We all know terror, pain and shame. Each of us bumbling through life the same. We all have a wealth of wonderful abilities and awful weaknesses. Each of us hurting in different ways, but ultimately we hurt the same.

When we come to the cross roads of you and me and every bird and bee look both ways before you jump and scream.

The best way to see is to have empathy and with compassion you will be set free. When you growl and yell, twist and kick all your doing is making the world sick.

Anger and hurt is an infectious disease and love is its only remedy. It is a golden, lovely light that shines so bright it encourages you to wear life like a glove, to fly like a dove and to say good bye to the frivolous fight.

Words of Hope

Shawn White Blog

Rationality

Malfunction

Empathy as an Intro

NCAN

Charlatans

Charlatans MLMs and con artists

Charlatans, MLMs and con artists

Watch out for the monsters lurking in the shadows. Be wary of those who whisper secret remedies able to cure your maladies. Remember good intentions spoken by sweet people can be poison. They may wish love, health and happiness, but if they have been bitten by the snake and poisoned with its oil, they will harm you.

Tearing their teeth through your skin they will pump venom into your blood. At first you will not notice the harm that is being done. The stars you see will trick you into believing their remedies are setting you free. Eventually you will see how dizzy you have become.

For some this is a terrible problem, because with the wrong treatment their life will be done. Often the weak and wounded have a window to take treatment, once that opportunity passes so too may their chances.

Charlatans love the sick and vulnerable

People suffering the horrible hell of cancer and other terrible illnesses are often targeted by monsters of various breeds. MLMs, charlatans and con artists blind themselves to the villainy of their awful actions by cannibalizing what little these innocent people have to live with.

The healthy monster does not understand how frightening the throb of finality can be. All they know is simple pleasures and little fears. They cannot fathom the horror of death knocking at their door.

These monsters attack the hope of the hurting by screaming and lashing out against science. They demand equal treatment for their make believe medicines, lying, cheating and taking advantage of the desperate and hurting. The MLMs, charlatans and con artists help themselves to what little money, time and life these people have left.

Take a stand against the Con Man

When I witness these horrid things I have to take a breath, step back and meditate on the sight I am seeing. It is a setting that makes me sad, especially since I know there is so much it. My insides burn and boil as I return from the tranquility of my inside zones. My soul hurts because I know there is too much of it. I know if I tried to stop all of it my mind would be driven mad.

I would lose my sanity because it is not the role of one man. It should be the goal of the community. As people we ought to vilify these monsters for what they are. Those who prey on the sick and dying are disgusting. They are a blight on our beautiful world.

Empathy is the key that will set our World Free

I believe many of our problems can be solved with empathy. So few take the time to imagine the plight of another. Far too often people want to focus on how terrible their own life is, thinking others can’t possibly understand. This opens a terrible door, it is the gateway to becoming a monster, an absolutely shitty human being.

I’m going to let you in on a secret. The truth is, life hurts. It hurts really bad and for most of us it only gets worse. My life has been pretty damn terrible and most days I feel horrible. Its a challenge to breathe, I can’t feel huge areas of my body, it burns and hurts in ways I can’t describe. I have no health insurance and I have cancer. It would be easy to say life sucks, cause in many ways it does.

With that said, my pain is no worse than yours. Pain is a subjective experience. Though we may use a 10 scale, we don’t experience each number the same way.

Instead of being incapacitated by the pain I use it to be the better version of myself. I know what it is like to hurt and I know others hurt too. Its a reminder to always empathize and be fair to my fellow humans. It is the ultimate levy against becoming a shitty person.

You can use it too. We can all use empathy to think about how our actions or statements would feel if said or done to us.

Treat others how You want to be Treated

If you had a serious illness would you want to be bombarded with expensive, unproven methods claiming to cure or control your disease? When faced with the cold hard truth you want what works. Science saves lives and personal advocacy will protect you from the monsters of the world.

So when you see the MLMs, charlatans and con artists selling snake oil speak up. There is a good chance you are saving someone from a terrible amount of suffering.

Discovering Hope

Shawn White Blog

Memes aren’t Facts

Nioxin vs Monat vs Rogaine 

The Life Coach

NCAN

manuscript

The Manuscript of your Life

Your story is awesome, overwhelming and beyond imagination. Your life is a book, but it’s probably not a best seller. It’s a rough manuscript stained with coffee rings and nicotine. It’s not the clean, crisp, perfectly penned pages found in a book store. Instead it is aged, torn and sloppily written.

A best seller is a natural page turner, exciting in all the right ways and follows a fantastic formula. Our daily lives are unremarkable, our scenes make little sense and the narrative is shit. Nothing seems to happen for any particular reason, the rise of action rarely leads to anything great. It’s like an under dog story without overcoming the odds, or a redemption story without redemption.

When we read back over our life book it seems like none of the characters make any sense, the bad guys always win and the plot seems to be completely absent.

Throughout our lives we grab at our hair and pull it out screaming “Why the fuck is this happening to me? When will any of it ever stop?”

It is easy to get caught up in our lives. Often we mistake ourselves as the main character of the story, so why wouldn’t we? If we arent the main character, then who is?

Chill, drink a cup of coffee and burn your candle at both ends. Miss a night’s rest and immerse yourself in this crap life of yours. Take some time and figure out what the fuck is happening and try to do something about it. If you need to complain or cry or beat yourself up then do it. Wallow in your misery, let it infect every spirit fiber of your being.

Take some time and get to know your pain, make it your friend. While you’re at it think about your mortality and look back on your life. How remarkable has it been? How much good have you done for others? What is your legacy?

At the end of your life story will it have been written with the blood and tears of others? Will it be a terrible tale of envy and anger? Will it’s pages be aged, wrinkled and bound into a bloated book?

Or will you have lived a good life, a loving Life? An existence committed to the enrichment of others? A life with purpose. A purpose that was right for you, one of empathy, compassion and critical thought. A story you wrote, a narrative you drove forward with your own blood, sweat and tears?

Did you learn along the way that you are not the main character? That others have feelings, make mistakes and are bumbling through this complicated existence just like you?

Take a breath. Take a big ol breath. If you are reading this you aren’t dead. You are alive. Even if you are laying on your death bed waiting for the ticks of time to slip away there is still hope. With hope there is goodness, you have time to do good, be good and help others feel good. You have time to leave your anger at the door, to invite love in your life and embrace the fate you make.

The pain you feel might pass, it may never pass. It might ride you like a jockey till the end of the race. But that’s alight, I believe you will find a way. You will climb the tallest mind mountain and experience an epiphany that will forever transform your life.

A life that is awesome, overwhelming and beyond imagination. One without clean, crisp and perfectly penned pages. It will be a rough manuscript stained with coffee rings and nicotine, it will be aged, torn and sloppily written. It will be the best tale, the greatest story, it will be the book of your life.

 

The Placebo of Ernest the Life Coach

Sitting beside my friend Ernest we chatted the lazy morning away. We were in old town Saint Charles enjoying delicious coffee. Little birds scurried along begging for bread crumbs. Golden rays slipped through the fluffy cloud blankets creating kaleidoscope lightshows in the street.

Beside me was Ernest, he had a lean build halfway between a runner and a weekend warrior. His intensely bored eyes stared into the distance. He was tense and taut as a bow. “What did you think about the book I suggested?”

Watching the steam rise from my cup of coffee I placed my hand over the delightful heat of the freshly brewed deliciousness. Raising my eyes to his. “Oh yeah, the Mind Matter, You Are the Placebo book? It was boring with very little substance.”

Crossing his arms, Ernest’s face reddened as his brow furrowed.

I took a deep breath and continued speaking. “It was like four-hundred pages of pseudoscience garbage.  I get what the intent of the book is, but it’s the kind of message that can lead seriously ill people astray.”

Ernest shifted in his seat, his body movements sharpened, and began speaking faster. “I can’t fucking stand people like you. How can you just discount and dismiss what you read?” His words boiled with anger.

My eyebrow raised, I assumed he took my review as a criticism of him. I was kind of weirded out by his reaction. To ease the discomfort of the scene I raised the mug to my lips and took a sip; it was my favorite, highlander grog. Thankfully it had cooled enough for me to enjoy its exquisite flavor.

I looked at him, then back at the birds and the dark river in the distance. It took a few minutes of silence for his agitation to subside. As the air cleared his grimace lowered and his arms uncrossed.

You know I could’ve charged you when we first met?” He said with a stern face. “But, I value our time too much, so I didn’t…” Slowly he twisted his face into a half smile.  “…and I know you need our meetings.”

I shrugged and took a sip of my coffee. “I wouldn’t have hired you, so it wouldn’t have mattered.”

His half smile curled into a full fake smile.

Watching his reaction, I continued. “I’m sorry… I don’t pay for advice or for people to be my friend.” I said holding my hands on the sides of my warm mug.

A few moments passed. Ernest stretched his leg out, then sat back in his chair. The pallor of his face started to redden again as he pressed his lips together and narrowed his eyes. “So, what’s up, how are things?”

Eh, pretty rough, recovering from chemotherapy has been slow and hard.”

He stared off into space then back at me. “You know, the only reason you haven’t recovered is because you choose to stay sick. Right?”

Excuse me?” I could feel a warm anger in my stomach.

You’re choosing to be sick. As soon as you want to get better you will.” He paused for a moment. “That’s what Joe Dispenza is talking about right? This is all mind over matter.”

That’s not how it works, that’s not how chemotherapy or cancer works.” I was getting angry, but I was doing my best to remain calm.

That is how it works; if you tell your cells what to do they heal. If you chose to be sick, you stay sick. You have chosen to stay sick. Right? It is your decision; all of this is your decision. You’ve chosen to stay sick, just like you chose to get cancer.” His tone grated on my soul, like being stabbed by the splintered uneven edge of a broken spear.

My blood began to boil. How could this mother fucker actually believe this garbage? No one chooses to get cancer; no one wants to be sick.

He continued to explain. “I only get sick when I want to. I’ve been telling my wife and daughter this a long time. To prove it I told my wife I was choosing to get sick and I got sick. She used to have headaches all the time, now I’ve taught her how to choose not to have them, she doesn’t get them anymore. My daughter doesn’t listen though; she’s stuck like you and won’t accept she is in control of her health.”  Ernest’s smile and eyes became wide for a moment before continuing. “You are the placebo, if you want it hard enough, you can have anything you want.” He paused for a moment and looked at his phone. “I have an appointment, give me a hug brother, I’ll see you next week.”

I don’t like to see bridges burned, but I do like see boundaries enforced. To have a relationship with someone we must build a bridge from our island to theirs. It requires upkeep and understanding built from a foundation of empathy and respect. That day he was in the business of setting fires. There are certain things we don’t burn, just like there are certain things we don’t say. It felt like he was in the mood to set my island on fire, so I turned him toward the bridge. He first started by melting and discarding all his understanding, then set flame to empathy, and at the very end, once the bridge began to crumble and fall all my respect for him was gone. I could have stopped the conversation, told him how offensive his statements were, but why put out a flame when the arsonist is just going to set it ablaze again anyways?

Tell me about this book.

In the book: You are the Placebo, by Joe Dispenza he shared how he willed his vertebrae to regenerate after being crushed[1]. Where is the evidence? His followers claim things like x-rays and documentation aren’t needed to prove their prophet’s powers.

How did he heal his bones? Dispenza claims it was by becoming the placebo. In his words “The key is making your inner thoughts more real than the outer environment, because then the brain won’t know the difference between the two and will change to look as if the event has taken place. If you’re able to do this successfully enough times, you’ll transform your body and begin to signal new genes in new ways, producing epigenetic changes—just as though the imagined future event were real. And then you can walk right into that new reality and become the placebo.”[2

I have no clue what that meant, and I am sure he didn’t either. This is a common trait of followers and practitioners of pseudo-medicine, they love stringing together long unintelligible sentences.

Can we use the placebo effect to heal our body?

Harriet Hall, MD wrote: “Placebos are widely misunderstood. They don’t have any objective healing powers. Placebos have never been shown to change the course of any kind of illness; they have only been shown to temporarily improve subjective complaints like pain and nausea. You have a misconception about placebo surgery; no, it does nothing to activate the self-healing powers of the body. Placebo surgery is never used clinically for treatment. It has only been used as a placebo control in scientific studies, where it has been useful in demonstrating that a particular surgical procedure was ineffective and should be abandoned.”[3]

Harriet A. Hall is a retired family physician, former U.S. Air Force flight surgeon, and health advocate who writes about alternative medicine and quackery for Skeptic magazine, Skeptical Inquirer and Science-based Medicine.

 

Words of Hope 2

As you swim in the splashing sea you may feel the fish nibble at your feet. It is scary and may leave you weary, but you must force yourself forward. Push hard when it feels like you're flopping and floating, but know each stroke brings you closer to the coast.

I encourage you to keep Hope in your periscope and never be discouraged. See passed the stillness of the sea and the distance to the sandy shore. Know you are closer than ever before. There will come a time in the distant now when the might of your movement will take you to that perfect place, that incredible island, the sanctuary of your soul.

The Life Coach

Life coaches and gurus speak about systems and methods to achieve a prosperous life. Don’t feel bad when they don’t work for you, most likely they don’t work at all. These people make a living by pretending to be your friend and selling you advice. If a trained psychologist or psychiatrist can’t heal you, how can this self-appointed life coach?

Hiring someone specialized in your field or need may be helpful or entertaining, but it is important to evaluate their qualifications. Many may claim to have insight or abilities that are simply untrue, these are charlatans selling snake oil. They have no genuine interest in helping you, their primary motivation is to take your money. Others may believe they have the capacity to transform your life, but most will do more harm than good. The final sliver of coaches represents a number who are qualified, capable and interested in helping you live a better life.

Surround yourself with the feather you want to be

Life coaches and gurus often say you should surround yourself with wealthy and successful people. They teach their clients to ride tailcoats and manufacture friendships. They want you to believe they are successful so you continue to pay them to be your friend and sell you advice.

Hanging out with wealthy people will not make you wealthy, unless of course they give you their money. Instead of paying people to be your friend, riding tailcoats and using others, just try to get to know people and make friends. Look for people with common interests and share ideas. Fake people suck and everyone knows it, the more artificial your are the more awful you become.

Surround yourself with the feather you want to be. This means spend time with good-willed, loving people with peace in their heart. The right people are the ones who encourage us to achieve our dreams and to live with purpose. They are passionate, confident and want to leave the world better than they found it.

An MLM isn’t the answer

There comes a time when we decide to take charge and become our own captain. We build a ship and set sail to explore the sea and discover treasure. We are ready and willing to invest ourselves fully, sacrificing freedom for fortune.

Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs are blown off course and get caught in the web of an MLM. These organizations leech the life from everyone caught in their pyramid shaped web. They are a caste system of wealth, serving as the literal representation of ‘the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

MLMs manifest in a multitude of ways, but all share a few commonalities; most of the money is made by the first members, the organizational structure is shaped like a pyramid, and they all sell an overpriced product.

They sneak into the lives of good-willed, loving people pursuing their dreams of entrepreneurship. After infesting them, they slowly eat them alive like a flesh-eating maggot. They achieve this by using underhanded manipulative tactics that trick even those with a strong will.

The sensational sparkle of success

Lurking in the tormenting tide outside of the MLM is the hunting ground of the life coach. These unregulated experts offer advice and friendship in exchange for money. What connection do they have with MLMs?  Earlier I mentioned how life coaches and gurus advise their clients to surround themselves with wealthy and successful people. They use the MLM as a tool to show off their wealthy, connected and powerful friends.  Your life coach may suggest you to join their elite organization, claiming you’ll have all the components needed to rise to success. Of course, when you fail, the reason will be simple, you didn’t want it enough.

The Golden Sliver of Good

If there is a sliver of qualified, capable and compatible life coaches, how do I identify them?

Qualifications

What is their background? In what way is their past relevant to your life? If you have cancer and are seeking guidance through these troubling times, could you trust the advice of someone who has never walked this terrible path? As an aspiring entrepreneur could you trust advice from someone who has never started their own business?

What is their education? In today’s world a degree isn’t what it once was. The job of your choice may require a degree, but the specifics of the certificate is rarely important. When it comes to coaching, their education must be relevant to the guidance given. This education doesn’t have to be a formal one, but it should be extensive and insightful.

Ask your potential life coach what their training is and demand examples of their competency. Avoid anecdotal evidence of success, word of mouth and written testimonials are easily manipulated and distorted.

A degree in counseling or psychology doesn’t guarantee quality. However, it does improve the likelihood they are in a regulated industry and have liability insurance. A coach may still serve a valuable role in your life even if they do not have a mental health related degree.

Capabilities

How capable are they? How will their advice benefit you? Do they posses the intelligence, empathy and charisma to be an effective guide? Is their insight original or could you buy all their wisdom in a book?

What challenges have they overcome? Its easy to hear and read the hardships of others, it is far more difficult to live them. Overcoming the odds and coming out on top is an even greater challenge. In what ways have they faced the impossible? Have they been burnt asunder and risen from their ashes like the phoenix? If your coach wants to guide you, make sure they have experienced the spectrum of terrible to terrific.

How have they overcome the odds? It’s a bold move to claim unfounded hardship, but it happens. How do we know if our coach is telling us the truth? One of the best ways is to listen to them tell their story. Listen to the subtleties of how they learned to survive and thrive. Ask for all the details of this, that and everything in-between. Speak to the people who were there when the coach crawled through the muck and the mud. Research everything in your coach’s story, investigate their past and trust your gut.

When I advise people recently diagnosed with cancer I suggest they use an oncologist specialized in their disease. A generalist may have a great understanding of cancer in general, but they don’t understand the specifics of your special needs.

Life coaching is similar in that you shouldn’t waste your money on someone who isn’t a perfect fit.

Motives

What is their primary motivation? What maters most to them?  Are they the golden sliver of good or a wolf in sheep's clothing?  How do you ascertain if they want to help us? By asking questions, investigating who they are and trusting your gut.

 

Discovering Forgiveness

Discovering Forgiveness

Forgiveness soothes the angry bees in our belly and it makes it easier to be. To let go and forgive we must tend to the issues fueling our pain. Sometimes solving this problem can be as complicated as a Cenobite’s puzzle box. In many ways our life is a series of games. Hopefully they become easier along the way as we learn from each.

A big part of forgiveness is accepting everyone makes mistakes. Once we realize and accept this it should become easier to forgive, but it typically isn’t. We are so quick to damn others we fail to see how horrible we are making the world and how vile we are acting. Before getting angry about what someone else did, pause and take a breath then try to empathize with them. Empathy is a key component to solving the Forgiveness puzzle.

If we want forgiveness we must be willing to forgive. The world can be a terrible place, why make it any worse? The more we demand others to suffer, the more we are camouflaging vengeance as justice.

One reason Forgiveness is challenging is because we hurt. Most have not figured out how to give purpose to the pain and so we live a life of suffering. The more we hurt the more suffering we can dispense.

A lot of people refuse to forgive because they confuse it with forgetting. It is important to remember forgiveness is not forgetfulness. When we forgive it is a personal journey of letting go. As we release all those bad feels our suffering begins to diminish and the pleasant glow of peace manifests on the horizon.  By forgiving others we protect ourselves and slow our downward spiral into bitterness.

Mistakes and Fairness

Mistakes and Fairness

Should the sum of our existence be calculated by a small window of time or a few mistakes? Do you believe every good deed ought to be dismissed because of a few decisions?

We all make mistakes and decisions that lead to disaster. No one was given an instruction manual or granted a good guide. Each and everyone of us are bumbling through life for the first time.

If we want fairness we must be fair to others. We achieve this by forming a relationship with Forgiveness, Wisdom and Hope. Forgiveness helps us ease the ferocity of vengeance; Wisdom, especially empathy mutes the sharp edge of judgement; and Hope reminds us we can learn from our mistakes.

Pain can blind us

The world is an insane place and there seems to be no end in sight. It spins us round and round, twisting our gut till we are about to throw up. With the challenge of life, you’d think we’d be more understanding, but people hurt so much they are blinded by their pain.

We get kicked over and over even after being knocked to our knees. When the assault stops we are granted a reprieve, but we must raise our fists for the next beating. With so much strife it becomes hard to fight. Its difficult to give a pass when we feel like shattered glass.

I know how much it hurts to feel broken, but we cannot close our eyes. If we do, we lose more than magnificent beauty and infinite wonder. We lose our empathy and ability to see. We must hold onto our wisdom and continue to use empathy. The more empathetic and understanding we are, the more forgiving the world will be.

Forgiveness is not Forgetfulness

Forgiveness is a spiritual experience and a relationship with our inside zones. It’s a philosophy of responsibly letting go. A decision to walk away from suffering to come closer to peace. It’s a path of personal protection and a barrier against bitterness.

Its important to know Forgiveness is not forgetfulness. If someone violates, hurts or wrongs us, we should protect ourselves. Do what needs to be done, but don’t desire their destruction. Stop the cycle of bad by treating them better than they treated us. Let our abusers see how they hurt us and give them a chance grow from it.

Vengeance is easy, but imagine what kind of life we would be living if someone enacted vengeance on us for every wrong or crime we committed?

My message here is to be fair to others. Do to them as we want done to us. Be understanding while protecting ourselves. If we must protect ourselves, our goal should be to end the threat and receive fair compensation.

I know what it feels like to feel pain, it can be terrible, but making someone else hurt isn’t going to take away ours. When we strip vengeance from justice we can give Forgiveness and live with peace.

We can learn from our mistakes

At the end of the day I believe everyone can learn from their mistakes. Every day I take a misstep, sometimes I stumble, and if I fall I hope someone is rooting for me to get back up. We all make mistakes and decisions that lead to disaster, everyone has hurt someone else, and no one is perfect. Have faith that others can become the better version of themselves.

 

Hold onto the light

Discovering Personal Advocacy

Discovering Personal Advocacy

Hope is the corner stone of personal advocacy. To find her we must fantasize about the world, embrace the thought of adventure and share our dreams with others. From this spark we will explore our creativity through artistic expression, connecting our soul parts with our body and mind. Creativity gives way to imagination, the ability to see something that does not exist and manifest it within reality. Once we can imagine ourselves as the person we want to be, all we have to do is make it a reality. Hope is the faith we can achieve this reality.

Critical thought entails the usage of empathy, insight and research. We will learn to explore the perceptions and realities of others, avoid pseudoscience and become effective researchers. This is an important component in personal advocacy because it gives us the knowledge to have power over our lives.

Force of will is the quality of pushing forward despite our obstacles and hardships. It is our willpower, forward momentum and determination. It is living with significance, purpose and drive. Force of will sprouts from Hope, it grows with critical thought and blossoms when we give purpose to the pain.

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Discovering Hope

 

Healthy Relationships – Body of Life

Healthy Relationships

So much has changed since I began this journey. Many of the thoughts I wrote are no longer what I believe now. A good number were force fed to me by Ino. Spoonful’s of his hurt jammed down my throat into my heart. I have a peace-love relationship with my time with him. My heart has found peace, I no longer suffer with animosity or anger toward Ino. I love him as I would any person. The hurt he fed me has been spat out and the sour taste washed away. This peace has opened the pantry door for me savor the experience of healthy relationships.

From Ino and the Wolf in Sheep’s clothing I’ve discovered a quality I look for in others. True Empathy, the kind where hurt spoken is investigated before being dismissed. I want a friend in my corner who will listen to me, before they cast out my feels on this or that. The same is what I want to give, and that is exactly what will be given.

I’ve always believed that your lover should be your friend, your best friend. They should be your partner in crime, your battle buddy, your advocate. In my last relationship, I didn’t have this. It was a clear parameter set by them, a line I wasn’t allowed to cross. Healthy Shawn White would have ended the relationship then and there. Me-of-the-Past and Me-Now are a lot stronger than Chemo-Me, or Post-Chemo-Me. I was in too deep, too much in love during a troubling time to let go. It was the right thing for me, it was the affection and attention I needed. There is nothing I regret about that relationship. It was, as it was, and everything it was meant to be. I’m at peace with it and have moved on.

Every Relationship is Different

I believe that every relationship is different, each with its own social contract. Though different, all are similar in that they’re defined by the personal boundaries of at least two people. I dig love, life, adventures and dreams, but without personal boundaries none are possible.

 

 

 

Tangerine – Silly

Tangerine

Tangerine

When a tangerine wants to be angry at a lemon, it doesn’t have to have an edible reason. Ordinarily the tangerine only needs to redirect the stress caused by the avocados and celery of their life onto the lemon. Sure the lemon isn’t as sweet as an orange, but one fruit should never threaten to throw out the other just because of a few minor imperfections in its fruity skin.

Fruit harmony should never be something so readily threatened. Long lasting citric bonds are formed from empathy and mutual compassion.
Citric bonds aren’t about delectable dominance, dreamy demands or compensation for perceived salacious slights. They are about the give and take, letting the insignificant slide and realizing you’re not the center of the universe.

A many a good apple would say “Those fruit who see themselves as victims and believe they are the most pure and good are typically too short sighted to see how they hurt those close to them.

Every food product, be it veggie, fruit or heavenly ham is equally flawed. None better than the other but all equally as beautiful in their own right.

You are a unique fruit, no more unique than a than any other tasty treat. To know that is the first step to empathize with your fellow fruits and vegetables.

Links

Welcome to the new silly section of my blog.  It is a place where I can reclaim my happy go lucky fun loving self.  If you would like to take a break from all the super seriousness then this is your place.

If you would like to return to the excellent excitement of advocacy consider clicking on one of these links.

Power Advocacy Podcast 1

Power Advocacy Podcast 3

Relationships – Boundaries – Personal Advocacy

Experiencing a long-lasting friendship can be incredible. It feels great having someone in our corner, especially when we’re confident they’ll be there forever. The longer we are friends with someone the more we lower our guard to build new boundaries for them. It can be a beautiful experience to fall in love and explore a relationship.

Sometimes it is not so wonderful. Some people don’t want to be a part of the construction crew and build something new. They are content with jumping the wall and doing as they please.

I’ve had many people in my life take that course of action, Ino and Pea Weasel are prime examples. Being abused, violated and betrayed are all insightful experiences that test our resolve and push us harder to protect ourselves. We learn over time the best defense is effective personal boundaries. They serve as our eternal champion protecting us from harm. As our guardians they are the supporting structures of our relationship bridges.

These bridges are our relationships and they are the roads that connect people. They require upkeep and understanding and must be built from a foundation of empathy and respect. Everyone in the world is an island and these bridges connects us. The stronger we build and upkeep them the less likely they are to crumble or burn.

If we are living safely we have a strong wall around our island. This is our outer boundary, it protects us from the harm others may try to commit against us. Beyond this wall is another surrounding our palace, this wall is our inner boundary. It protects us from everything unhealthy we may try to do to ourselves.

Maintenance

In relationships we must maintain a vigilant eye on many moving parts. Our first concern is our palace, are we enjoying our stay? The most important relationship we can have is within ourselves. Are we doing everything we can to live the highest quality of life? Are we chasing our dreams? How are we feeling? Are we happy with our relationships and are they happy with us?

The second most important is a tie between our inner and outer boundaries. Are we doing everything we can to reinforce them? When was the last time one was breached and why was that allowed? What can we do to prevent that from happening in the future?

Next, we have our bridge. Are we spending enough time and resources to maintain it? Do we even like it being there, and if not, what must we do to remove it?

Finally, our last concern is the outer boundary of those around us. Are we respecting their walls? How dangerous are their boundaries, could they compromise ours? Are we empathizing and doing our best to treat others better than we have been treated?

Our Boundaries are not the same for everyone

When I was going through chemotherapy I was prohibited from hugging people. My immune system was so weak it was simply too risky to touch anyone. I had to be extremely careful about who and what I interacted with. The chemotherapy made me feel like death, so there was no way I was going to risk my life for a hug or a handshake.

I was coupled at the time and though I was told not to touch, there was no way I would deny myself any touch. Her hugs and kisses and the occasional massage were the only exceptions.

One day I was standing in line waiting to buy a delicious liquid refreshment at Picassos my favorite coffee house. I was chatting it up with a young man named Tello when a close friend of mine walked through the door. Immediately my friend wanted to give me a hug, but I had to quickly refuse and inform them I can no longer hug people.

Tello took this as a challenge. He said, “I’m going to give you a hug.”

I turned to him and with a stern voice I commanded him not to touch me.

Strangely Tello ignored my demand and continued forward to embrace me. I was filled with a cocktail of anger and fear, my survival mechanism kicked in and I yelled at him. “If you try to hug me I am going to knock you to the floor!” I meant it. Though I hurt all over there was no way I was going to let him touch me without consequence.

His eyes locked with mine and his urgency slowed to a halt.

If you ever try to touch me without permission, I will hurt you.” I warned Tello.

Enforcing Boundaries

In a loving relationship our boundaries can be a gentle hand, encouraging words, even a stern look. We can secure our walls without weaponizing them. In most situations we don’t have to aggressively enforce our boundaries like I did with Tello.

The core principles of personal advocacy: Hope, Wisdom and Forgiveness are easily applied here. Empathize, take a moment to imagine what their intent was when they crossed your boundary. Were they trying to hurt and take advantage of you or was this a misunderstanding? Whatever the answer is we must make it clear to them they crossed the line. Then we must embrace Hope and have faith we will both learn and grow from this experience.  

Links

If you would like to continue your adventure through personal advocacy consider clicking on one of these fancy links.

We Must All Become Advocates, All of Us

Introduction to Boundaries

Caretaker In Name Only

Caretaker In Name Only

This poem describes the experience of living with someone who was supposed to be my caretaker during chemotherapy.  The end result of this experience was me taking care of them.  The insanity of living with this person has helped me make decisions, say no and enforce my boundaries.

 

caretaker

A Caretaker In Name Only

A Poem by Shawn White

Abusers and Takers reveal their true identity when asked to take responsibility.

When you draw a line in the sand and ask them not to cross it, they push and cry and whine.
They say “Woe is me; I am the victim!”
They are envious, but not of the loss of lung or the cancer or the chemo, but of everything else you have worked for or earned.
That money, the stuff used to allow you survive, they believe a part of it is theirs.
They shouldn’t have to pay, they shouldn’t have to do, they can’t do this, they can’t do that.
They cry and fuss when they are expected to turn Adult into Adulting.

But what about the things they just bought? They need money to pay its taxes, they need money to pay their payments and insurance… what about their insurance?

It is not your fault that they bought a thing beyond their means. A thing with the intent to attract instead of to deliver. It is not your fault that they lost their job.
It’s not your fault that they have refused every opportunity put before them, the free education, tools, insurance, guaranteed employment.
Its not your fault that they volunteered to move in with you, to help you survive when you were terrified of what was to come.
Its not your fault when they did nothing to take care of you.
Its not your fault when you had to take care of yourself and this Taker who took what you had and lived like a child.

A child who said you would look stupid and ugly once your hair started falling out, who told you that you were weak, a child who was adamant about the things they believe you cannot do.

Abusers and Takers reveal their true identity when asked to take responsibility.
When that line is drawn in the sand and they see they can no longer force you with their will, they make you the monster.
They say “Woe is me; I am the victim!”
They say “How dare you expect me to help you, how dare you expect me to pay to play, to live, to eat.”

And so in the end they give you a gift, they give you the gift of freedom and peace.
Freedom from them and peace of mind.

For more reading on feelings and such feel free to click this link.

Health Advocate – A New Universe of Cancer

health advocate

Health Advocate

Life is akin to a garden, one that needs to be tended even when it yields nothing. Through hard work and dedication we can reap the rewards of our labor and taste the juicy flavor of our investments.  I have been researching, poking, asking questions and learning how to become my own health advocate.

I’ve finally begun to taste the fruit of my labor.  This week my oncologist admitted that he was wrong for not ordering the tests I requested.  He said that I was right and that he wanted to make sure that my needs and expectations were met.  His apology meant a lot to me, it is a rare occasion to hear a doctor apologize and reveal his humanity.

I have learned a lot from this experience, much of it needs to be further analyzed but the primary points I have discovered is it involves three major components: Critical research, empathy and healthy personal boundaries.

Components

♣Critically research everything.  You need to understand as much as you possibly can about your disease.  Compile the knowledge you need to duel your doctor.  Learn the language of your disease,  the words, tests, scans, and acronyms used  must become common parlance in your new vernacular.

♣Empathy, you must have the ability to evaluate the decision making process of your doctor.  If you would like to effectively communicate with them, it is absolutely necessary that you empathize with them.

♣You must have strong personal boundaries.  I believe that there are two major categories of personal boundaries: Inner and Out.  The Outer boundaries apply to any situation where someone is making you feel uncomfortable.  Inner boundaries apply to how you might hurt yourself.   Becoming your own health advocate requires that you set healthy Inner and Outer boundaries.

Being your own Health Advocate is about researching, asking the right questions and demanding the treatment that is best for you.

If you would like to read more about personal advocacy feel free to click this link