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Queen of Your Own Life

Empathy | Naming and Claiming Our Royalty

by Cindy Ratzlaff

When I worked in book publishing, I published a book called When Bad Relatives Happen to Good People by Leonard Felder, PhD.  It was a wonderful book with a very clever title about one simple premise. We have no control over the thoughts or actions of other people.  We only have control over our own actions and reactions.

In speaking with my fellow Queens, I know the holiday season sometimes brings out the best and worst in our familial relationships and even in our closest friendships.

We lose so much when we allow anger, hurt, frustration or exhaustion to be the overriding emotion of a day that is meant to be a celebration.  But no one knows how to trigger these feelings more than those closest to us.  So how do we change that dynamic and give ourselves the holiday we want and deserve?

Here’s my one simple strategy for this season. Look into the eyes of the person who is annoying me, frustrating me, criticizing me or doing anything that triggers anxiety and ask myself silently “what fear, hurt, pain, or low self-esteem is causing this person to do this?” I’m taking the focus off of me and realizing that the other person is acting out of their own pain and I’m going to give myself the opportunity to look deep inside to find empathy.  I’ll let you know how it goes and I’d love to hear from you all about your coping strategies for stressful encounters.

So as clashing political views, differing levels of social tolerance, critiques about cooking and housekeeping, and other stressful situations come up, I’m going to my “empathy” place, seeking to see the wounded soul within the person who is annoying and repeating to myself: “This person is hurt. I cannot change his/her path but I can handle them gently so as not to add to the hurt.”

I don’t want you to think my holidays are fraught with hurt, angry people.  They’re not.  But every now and then. . .

Happy Thanksgiving Queens and may only good relatives and friends happen to you!

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