Creating space for empathy around mental illness

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What is empathy and how can we allow our self to operate from this space?

There are many times in life where we resist what is right for us. Many times that life / the universe will take charge, propelling us in one direction over another. It is often when we come up against resistance in our life that it is here we need to lean in the most. If we are willing to lean into this uncomfortable space we open up the possibility for great healing and growth.

We can not possibly know what is best for us, always. This was me, not too long ago - resisting what was inevitably coming my way. Change. A new environment to call home in a place I did not want to be. As always, it was exactly what I needed and has been profoundly healing in regards to family and ancestral trauma. Most importantly it has opened my eyes and heart to greater understanding and empathy.

Now, it is not possible to know entirely how another person experiences reality. I do know that we are able, if even only for a moment, to put ourselves in the shoes of another. We can open ourselves up to the possibility of what it is like to live from their perspective and frame of reality. For example, if someone close to you or someone that you love is experiencing a hard time, you are able to feel their hurt and really come from a place of compassion and understanding - this is empathy.

How do I know this? I have a family member that lives with an acute case of schizophrenia and cerebral palsy. I have spent many months with her now and this experience has taught me a great deal of empathy, compassion and patience.

Let me say this, the fact that we can walk, run and breathe life force into our bodies is a gift. It is our birth-right but we are so fortunate for the ease at which this comes when we are healthy. Spending time with someone who has trouble with basic tasks illuminates all which we often overlook. My recent experiences have made this astoundingly clear.

I invite you to really take a look at your thoughts, actions and the things you may take for granted in your life on a daily basis. Check in with yourself. Is the resentment, anger or problem you are harboring really worth all of that energy you give it? Can you show up in challenging situations with more compassion and a fresh perspective?

Can you re-frame how you choose to operate each day? Maybe you need to practice the art of letting things go with a little less resistance. David Hawkins has a profound book on this, we should all read.

Rejoice and give gratitude for the fact that you can accomplish tasks with such ease physically and mentally. Allow yourself to be in a perpetual state of growth and evolution. We are often so quick to forget that all of this is available to us. Mental health is such a big topic and often associated with such shame and misunderstanding. It is my hope to open up this conversation and if nothing else, create space toward greater empathy for those that we coexist with here who suffer from these sometimes debilitating states of reality.

We are all in this together. We are not separate. We all innately want the same thing - love and acceptance for who we are. Let’s shift our narrative to, how can we show up with a greater capacity to support those around us?

Inspiring resources on schizophrenia

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