9 days in May…

We were married May 16,1992. I celebrated Mother’s Day for the first time in 1996 after the birth of our son. In 2000, during a challenging twin pregnancy, our doctor thought the babies were good sized (my feet and ankles were also swelling quite freakishly). She thought it was time to induce. Jeff and I could pick the date, we chose to keep our anniversary, our daughters were born May 17th.

From Mother’s Day to May 17th, life’s big events are celebrated at our house. This year Mother’s Day was the same day as my late father’s 82nd birthday. I miss you Dad.

In 2000, the Govoni family had a wedding, four new babies and we lost our much-love patriarch, Lou. That was obviously a very big year. When we talk about it now, new details keep being revealed about that time. Perhaps your family has a year like that as well?

Honoring life’s milestones, and supporting those who suffered loss (especially this year when weddings, graduations, and funerals were put on hold) is what connects humanity. The year really showed how much we need each other.

Our world shifted so many ways this year with the pandemic. Many bonds were strengthened, and unfortunately many fayed (or severed) as well.

When significant change beyond our control occurs, we crave certainty. Life is clearly very uncertain. Learning how to adapt, hell, maybe even thrive with uncertainty is perhaps the key to our survival.

After a year of slowing down, and finally inching toward our new normal, I think it’s time to take stock of where we’ve all landed. First, quietly in our own hearts, and then collectively as a nation.

I want to cut away the thorns from my heart that are hindering my empathy, judgment, or choices. A process far slower than I would prefer…but necessary and well worth the effort.

compassion & purpose

cognitive, emotional or compassionate?

This morning I read an article by in the Washington Post. There’s been a lot of discussion about empathy lately, however this was the clearest explanation about the three types I’ve ever read.

I thought a quick reference would be useful.  Seeing this in black & white allows me to understand empathy much more clearly.  I hope this is helpful for you too.

three types of empathy

With cognitive empathy, you understand what someone else is thinking and feeling.  Great for business discussions, making plans and solving conflicts.

With emotional empathy, you actually feel their pain. This can be exhausting and take a toll on our health, relationships and sense of well-being.  I’ve started asking myself; is this actually my pain?  Often, it is not.

EXCERPT FROM WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE:  “Neuroscientific research on empathy shows that if you’re empathizing with a person who is in pain, anxious or depressed, your brain will show activation of very similar circuits as the brain of the person with whom you’re empathizing,” notes Richard Davidson, a professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.” 

LINK: Washington Post article about empathy

And there’s compassionate empathy, where you feel concern about someone’s suffering and you’re motivated to help in some way.  I think of all of our nation’s recent natural disasters…we’re moved by compassion to send money or participate in clothing drives.  When we are motivated (or activated), we don’t have to actually feel this pain.  This can be a self-esteem boost and isn’t usually draining.  We feel empowered that we took action.