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Taking care to care. Thursday September 18, 2014

In Moodscope, while we are a very caring and compassionate community, we sometimes see the 'result' of someone feeling stressed or simply uncomfortable by something someone said in their blog or even in a comment.

And with so many people on Moodscope who can be challenged by our own lives, on a daily basis, how do we attempt to reduce such occurrences? Especially when many of those who write or even comment, already feel they are taking a risk by writing!

So I offer the following...

We all know how to care. To care for and about others is part of our nature. Yet how we express our care can add more stress to our lives when we confuse care with empathy or sympathy. This becomes clearer when we look at the meaning behind these two words.

Empathy, as defined in one dictionary, is the 'intellectual (IQ) identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts or attitudes of another'. And, sympathy (EQ) is defined as 'sharing the feelings of another especially in sorrow or trouble'. Emotional over-identity with another or lack of our own emotional management or even awareness, can turn our care into someone else's stressful feelings of anxiety, anger or worry and eventually drain our energy.

The more physiological balanced state would probably be compassionate care.

What we mean here, comes from the origins of the word compassion: To 'be present' or with or together with another with feeling and not to simply mirror or 'wear' the other's pain or trouble or negative attitude or feeling.

Compassion slows down the drain on our energy stores and releases some of the stress that can come from over-attachment and over-identity. The positive effect of compassion creates more inner balance and is accompanied by peaceful feelings of care, benevolence, tenderness and kindness.

Next time you want to express your care on Moodscope or in life, do an internal check first: Is your care, stress reducing or stress producing?

Whether or not you know why you're feeling stressed or disturbed, take a few slow heart-focused breaths (breathe from your heart) to disengage from any discomfort or stressful feeling. Thus become settled and balanced. Then, and only then, recall and activate a sincere feeling or attitude of compassion or care.

Watch what emerges now and note any differences for future exploration.

Take care of your care.

A Moodscope member.

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Di Murphey Thu, Sep 18th 2014 @ 4:41am

Dearest Les ~
Well stated post. From my own heart-focused breaths, I thank you for who you are, the principles for which you stand, and who you hope to become. Our lives are richer because of your sharing.
Di Murphey

Lyn B.B. Thu, Sep 18th 2014 @ 6:56am

Thank you. I will join the London 'Climate March' on Sunday yet all the friends I have told, for various reasons are not coming. One day in life, yet it is not important enough. So, am I sympathetic or empathetic to the cause I feel is vital for our planets future. I will go alone yet with sorrow in my heart about my friends.

Charlie Bransden Thu, Sep 18th 2014 @ 8:55am

Brilliant Les - always have to read your blogs twice, once to get the gist, once to try to fully understand and embrace the words of wisdom - the writing's fine, beautifully crafted, it's just there's so much content in so few words. Excellent.
Which is fine for those of us lucky enough to have had a good education, but what always concerns me is how to help and train those who can't "self-adjust", because they cannot fully understand the written word

Julia Thu, Sep 18th 2014 @ 9:26am

Your blogs always challenge us Les! This one made me take a deep breath and think about my own reactions to blogs and the comments I might make without thinking too much before I start tapping the keys and press send. I have said before though that knee jerk reactions to comments and blogs should not be discouraged even though they may appear to be discourteous and come out all wrong. We should all be encouraged to write instantly how we feel from our hearts (I know you agree with this). My comments for instance do not always make absolute sense and I regret them sometimes for straying off course and focussing too much on how I feel. But we are an understanding lot and know that many of us are writing from bad places, unable to cope at that very moment of writing. As I understand it, your blog today tells us how to protect ourselves in our responses to blogs and other comments on this page. I really have taken a lot from your words Les and will think about trying to be compassionate as opposed to over identifying emotionally with peoples' feelings. This could help me I think. I hope I understand you correctly.

heather Thu, Sep 18th 2014 @ 9:45am

I agree with Julia that knee jerk responses to blogs should not be discouraged or it would become boring (as long as these are not intentionally unkind - which very rarely happens, if at all). However, your blog is so helpful to me, Les, as since young my mother always said my problems stemmed from getting too involved in the problems of others. Today I am visiting a very very challenging friend in hospital - others shrink from visiting her or will only drop in when I am there ! they say they have enough problems of their own and cannot take on any more. I don't understand their attitude but maybe now I do (a little). It could help me a great deal to take the heartfelt deep breaths and become compassionate and caring instead of empathetic/sympathetic. Thanks so much Les. love from Heather xx

Anonymous Thu, Sep 18th 2014 @ 12:30pm

Well said Di; I can't put it any better myself! Thank-you:

...and thank-you Les; it is so good to read you again and hear you in a better place. I love my walks at this time of the year - blackberrying helps me learn mindfulness. Frankie

Anonymous Thu, Sep 18th 2014 @ 12:33pm

Thank-you Lyn for doing the march - I have done many such marches over the years but am saddened that I am no longer physically able do so; I will think of you on Sunday and hope that you find new people to talk to on the way. It means a great deal to me to know that people like you do care and will march. Thank-you again. Frankie

David Jarvis Thu, Sep 18th 2014 @ 1:40pm

Thank you for the blog. I agree with the above two comments. I had a comment removed from a blog two days ago presumably because people had found it offensive or negative.
It was my reaction to a line from that blog that I had found offensive. It angered me and I wished to express how upsetting I found it.
Maybe my inability to deal with my own depression has made me bitter and hateful, I know that is a battle I fight within. I always used to feel that I was a compassionate person. The words I read hurt me deeply as I felt they implied that I and others like me had chosen to be in this position and I wanted to reach out to others who may have felt hurt in the same way. I suppose if I were to sum it up I would say that, coming from such a dark position of uncertainty, I could not relate to the seeming certainty in this one line of the blog and it really felt like a crushing blow. Like a verdict on me (as a person who is close to suicide) and the many people every day who never take a step back from the ledge.
Looking back I realise that the way I phrased my comment may well have been hurtful to the author. I was aware of this at the time but I felt that the need to express what I saw as the full implications of what they were saying was more pressing than the possible offense it may cause, and made my phrasing necessary.
I'm sorry now for the offense I've caused but the anger still burns as well (I guess that's an affront at my comment being taken down).
It sometimes seems so hard for us to understand each other. I wish it were more simple, more transparent. I think the lack of face to face interaction of an internet forum can present problems but it is hard anyway a lot of the time.
The truth is I'm in a very troubled and confused place right now. There seems, ultimately, no point to life other than to survive and I don't feel like I am fit enough. Everyone needs some kind of foundation in order to live, a faith or another kind of belief in morals and order but when I look at any of them they all seem to fall down under scrutiny. I feel like I have an auto-immune disease of the brain. Reason and logic are blowing away any tentative foundation as soon as it is lain.

I have been a member of Moodscope for a long time after hearing about it in a newspaper article not long after it's inception. I realise that there is a community of people on these blogs seeking to help each other and that is a wonderful thing. I don't often comment but I have offered my own words of praise and support before. Writing this has calmed me somewhat and I respect that the need for this to be a supportive community may outweigh the need to have complete freedom of expression.
I feel it's important to remember though, that many people reading these blogs may be in very dark places. Some of the blogs written actively seek to challenge the beliefs of those reading. It is only natural that such a challenge can provoke emotional and equally challenging responses.

If you feel that this comment is too negative than I understand your need to remove it.

Anonymous Thu, Sep 18th 2014 @ 2:05pm

Agreed. A fundamental concept stated plainly and thoroughly. The difference between be with our friends or emotionally entangling with them.
With love,

Julia Thu, Sep 18th 2014 @ 2:47pm

It wasn't this blog was it that you had your comment removed from? I am sure Les may respond if he is able to. I don't want to answer for his blog as I might be wrong but I feel that Les today is trying to help those of us who exhaust ourselves trying to over identify with another persons problems. Nowhere does he tell us what to write. He is the first person to encourage us to express ourselves from the heart. So feel free to write how you feel so we know where you are coming from and if we (I mean anyone reading this)can help then they will. After all, we all need help at some point in our lives, often daily which is why Moodscope gives us a blog each day. I am sorry your comment was removed the other day on a different site but yours today has not and I hope it has helped you to write it. It was interesting to read and I agree with you even some of the blogs on Moodscope are challenging and I don't identify with them all but I take what I need to out of them and in 99% of cases, I learn something and in all of them I sense a warmth and depth of feeling from the writer.

Steve M Nash Thu, Sep 18th 2014 @ 3:12pm

Beautifully put.

And whilst I understand the need to be 'sensitive' as contributor or commenter, there really is a 'gift' in being offended in what it can teach you about yourself! (Admittedly, the gift is sometimes too hard to receive at times!)

Anyway, thank you!

Anonymous Thu, Sep 18th 2014 @ 3:35pm

This time, you struck a chord with me.
This week I attended my first weekly counselling session.
"Lack of emotional management". A pearl of wisdom. Thankyou.

Anonymous Thu, Sep 18th 2014 @ 6:15pm

David, it was my blog that you replied on and I am sorry that it had such an impact on you. My reference to choice was in no way suggesting that people with depression choose to be depressed. My blog was about my personal journey. The choice was reference a decision I had to make about something in my life. The intention behind my blog was to show that journeys are fraught with difficulties and that sometimes there are crossroads and decisions have to be made. I certainly was not implying anything about anyone else and feel devastated that my words have created such negativity for you. Rosie

Suzy Thu, Sep 18th 2014 @ 8:05pm

Lovely post Les. I'm the person Mr Nash speaks of! Sometimes too terrified to check feedback for days after for fear Ive vexed or upset anyone, or more often, been misunderstood. I got to work at this, I know. ;o(

Caroline Ashcroft Thu, Sep 18th 2014 @ 10:05pm

Dear David, thank you for taking the time to explain your situation and I'm sorry you're not in a great place at the moment. We removed your comment after much consideration. We absolutely believe in freedom of expression and we really weren't sure whether to remove it or not. The reason we decided to in the end was because we felt Rosie was talking about her personal experience and how she felt - and although your comment was about you and how you felt, which is great, it was also quite critical towards Rosie's views and it was for this reason we removed it.

I really don't believe that any of the blogs actively seek to challenge the beliefs of those reading them. People are opening their hearts/souls in an attempt to try and help other Members. I am quite sure though that not everyone will agree with a certain blog or may have tried something that someone is recommending and it hasn't worked for them and we're always happy for other people to put forward their suggestions/thoughts.

I'd just want to steer the blog away from members criticising other members beliefs/thoughts/experiences. I do hope you understand.

I think your comment above explains a great deal and makes some very good points. It also has a completely different tone to the comment a couple of days ago. I'm so pleased you have taken the time to write.

Many thanks.

Les Fri, Sep 19th 2014 @ 12:36am

Thanks as always Di.....what hour were you up until or from?

Frankie - thanks and yes things better now....... was walking round Lake Geneva today - mindfully of course :-) BlackBerrying sounds good for mindfulness.......

Antonia.....thank you

Les Fri, Sep 19th 2014 @ 12:39am

Lyn - feel is that you are empathetic as you are going - taking action - and action is always driven by emotion and thus EQ. Being sympathetic would mean if asked you would say yes....but would not have enough desire (EQ) to go

Les Fri, Sep 19th 2014 @ 12:45am

Charlie - thank you for your kind and authentic comments - love the second read story.
To your question about people who are unable to self adjust - all I can offer is the Gandhi quote 'You have to be the change you want to see in the world'...........people learn best by example (EQ) not from lessons (IQ)....those who can 'self adjust' must be the parents, if able, must be so for their children. We cannot 'write' such rules - we MUST 'be' the change.

David Jarvis Fri, Sep 19th 2014 @ 2:06am

I'm commenting down here as my browser won't let me reply above for some reason.
Rosie and Caroline, I'm very thankful for your replies and the thought and time you must have put into them. You both are clearly very thoughtful and compassionate people and it is a healing gift that you give with those words.

Rosie, I'm so sorry for any distress I've caused. You are only trying to help people and my words had no such value. I took what you said as a judgement when it wasn't meant that way. I felt a need to lash out.
I have such little self esteem at the moment that I feel the weight of judgement all the time. When I watch the TV or read the paper it seems like there is so much judgement of others out there. The truth is the worst judgement is coming from myself and I then judged you in turn.

Caroline, thank you for explaining why you removed my comment. You were right to do so, I see that now. The consideration you took was admirable and your reasons honourable.

The person I am at the moment seems so far away from the example you are both showing.

I hope my words can be helpful in some way, as yours have been.

Les Fri, Sep 19th 2014 @ 8:15am

Julia - you are right I do agree - as long as it is from our hearts and not our heads :-)

The outcome of any communication IS the communication - so we must speak compassionately while also being open to 'receive' others reaction.

The human being is the only animal on the planet that can pause between any stimulus and their response - that is what so differentiates us from the animals.

And in that 'gap' all I offer is that we look into our hearts for our response and not the fear that may arise in our heads.

Les Fri, Sep 19th 2014 @ 8:16am

FAB story Heather........thank YOU

Les Fri, Sep 19th 2014 @ 8:27am


WOW.......worthy of a blog in itself for sure.

What a fabulous story from the heart.....and also what courage to offer your story and reveal your thinking and are for sure offering something that I'm sure will serve others, as we all at some point go through tough stuff.

I know when I was depressed not that long ago, that I was unable to deal with a comment on one of my blogs and talked with Caroline about stopping.........

When we are in a weakened state we can sometimes feel and say things that we may later regret - which is why I ask to 'breathe' from the heart - as it is possible even in a very dark place to momentarily come into the moment and be true to our spirit.

I LOVE the spirit of your comment above.

In your last line when you say 'If you feel that this comment is too negative than I understand your need to remove it.' - as soon as you yourself consider that the comment may be too negative and you 'offer' yourself that it is OK to bet is that it never will be - as you have considered this very action and have written accordingly...

You 'used' the gap and looked into your heart ;-)

Les Fri, Sep 19th 2014 @ 8:29am

Julia - fab stuff

Les Fri, Sep 19th 2014 @ 8:32am

Steve - agreed - as long as it truly offered as a 'gift' and thus the crucial spirit of the 'intent' behind it is not to lessen the writer.

The gift of feedback MUST have the intent of 'gifting' the writer with something that will improve and not something that 'tells'.

2 people can say exactly the same thing in feedback - and one will be happily received and one will provoke anger - simply because it is the 'intent' of the person that counts FAR more than words.

Les Fri, Sep 19th 2014 @ 8:33am


Great to hear.....thank you

Les Fri, Sep 19th 2014 @ 8:36am

Suzy - write a blog about that fear and put it out there and then see the responses - I bet it'll help you.

I await your external exposure of your inner fear :-)

Les Fri, Sep 19th 2014 @ 8:37am

David - FAB fab fab...........see above

David Fri, Sep 19th 2014 @ 5:03pm

Thank you Les, for both of your replies to my comments.
Your views and understanding are helpful and a boost to me.

David Fri, Sep 19th 2014 @ 5:18pm

Thanks for your reply Julia. It was a different blog I was referring to and I've realised now that I was mistaken in my interpretation of it.
Thank you for your words and understanding.
I certainly exhaust myself and often feel like I'm missing some component in my brain that others seem to have that allows them to step away from the process.
I'm so uncertain about things to the extent that I find it hard to relate to those who seem sure of themselves.
Perhaps it's just skills I haven't learnt yet though so I'll try to take that on board.

David Fri, Sep 19th 2014 @ 5:24pm

Hi Steve,
I agree. I have learnt that the offense I took recently was as a result of a miss-interpretation on my part, fuelled by my current state of mind and negative outlook. I'm not sure I could have learnt that without taking offense in the first place.
I often find in my periods of depression that I have to get so low, provoking reactions in others, before I realise what is happening. That can be very destructive though so I need to find the tools to prevent it as much as possible.

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