Articles in Relationships
The latest buzz in leadership is all about empathy, with many calling for more of it in our leadership style. The theory goes that if leaders were more empathetic, we wouldn’t have situations like the no-holds-barred culture that Kantor and Streitfeld described at Amazon. But is a lack of empathy really the problem?
The twins had been studying the last ice age in class, and on this particular day, had watched a short video clip about a large asteroid hitting our planet unexpectedly. As we discussed it over lunch, my daughter threw me an unexpected question.
“What would you do if you knew that an asteroid was going to hit our planet in two years time?”
At some point or another we all wrestle with questions around why we are here and how to find purpose in life. Being Called is a great introduction to what we can glean from these experiences in the modern world. Sometimes it is a powerful vision of a possible future that pulls us along, pushing us in a new direction, with no regard whatsoever for how we got where we are.
This kind of selfless love requires that we sit with our uncertainties and fears and yet assure our children that they are not alone. It requires that we refrain from fixing the cracks and fissures in the urge of making their lives perfect. It requires that we contain our impulses and desires and live in the hope of creating something far more beautiful than perfection.
In an earlier article, I wrote about 7 positive psychology behaviors that helped me survive some very traumatic experiences. As I approach the end of another pregnancy, I find myself feeling anxious and over-protective. Looking for ways to stay calm, I’ve found an 8th important behavior: experiencing and acting on compassion for the sufferings of others.
Infatuation with speed is a characteristic of our times. We live in the fastest phase of human history. That can lead to what Larry Dossey in 1982 termed time-sickness, as we become fearful of missing out. The ability to stay with the discomfort of life’s paradoxes and our own ignorance and to remain patient and still while questions and answers grow in never-ending cycles, requires a certain mental toughness that seems to be on its way out in a world in a hurry.
Two years ago, my two-year-old son suffered a severe scald burn covering 16 percent of his body. My unborn baby had a birth defect needing attention. In the year-and-a-half that followed, I saw my boys through four surgeries. I went through two surgeries myself after a complicated second trimester pregnancy loss. Seven particular tools from positive psychology helped me come through some very difficullt times. I believe I have experienced posttraumatic growth following these adversities, and Roepke and Seligman’s recent article helps me see why.
It took three weeks of focused effort in between my coaching clients to retrieve my basement and garage from the eyesore category. I admit it was not all play. There was back-bending, muscle-aching grunt work involved. But in my humbly proud mind, the journey’s end was titled “Positivity Parked Here!”
How about you? What paths do you choose to clear? Here’s to work/play lighting your way to flourishing.
We all have our own little bubbles of fear resting deep within us. Our relationships with our children take us back to these bubbles. I am beginning to recognize my reactions as based on these fears and to forgive myself for being human, so I can embark on the journey to change. I am reconnecting to my own goodness and beginning to embrace the parts of me that want to love unconditionally and accept non-judgmentally.
As a mother, I knew what was best for him, I told myself. I could not trust his teenage judgment. But something deeper prompted me to question my reasoning. Did I fear knowing his goals in case they were different from mine? Was I running away from the possibility that his ideals of success would not measure up to societal standards? Would I be able to face it if they didn’t? I slowly began to see myself hiding behind the guise of motherhood.