Marta Fisch Auckland Therapist

Ex-in-law stress and empathy

A week ago a family occasion precipitated an unexpected meeting with my ex mother-in-law, who tries very hard to let me know she doesn’t acknowledge my existence. I found myself reciting silent, habitual accusations about her. Then my mind changed tack. I chose to feel empathy for her rather than blame. I sat back, breathed, and realised that she must be in immense pain to work so hard, paradoxically, at disconnecting from me. My body then relaxed, my mind relaxed, and I felt whole and sane. This practice of turning blame into empathy has been developed by my study of non-violent communication, the neurobiology of empathy, and Buddhism. I am enjoying how I can now meld all three. Daniel Siegel is a neuro-biologist and psychotherapist who has researched the neurophysiology of empathy. In my counselling practice I receive great joy sharing these learnings with my clients and seeing how they too find release from blame, hatred and disconnection.
Recommended reading/sources: Insight Meditation, Joseph Goldstein; Born for Love, Szalavitz and Perry; Non-violent communication, Marshall Rosenberg; Daniel Siegel, The Developing Mind.

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