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How my past experiences can help you overcome your challenges

Emma Tomes |
November 17, 2021

Empathy – it is such a little word for something that is so vital to our wellbeing and our relationships with people we come into contact with every day.

It enables us to form lasting meaningful relationships, it helps us understand how others are feeling so that we can help them, and it supports people to feel heard.

Within my work empathy is key. It is important for my clients to feel that I understand how they are feeling, and it helps me see how together we can approach the challenges they might be experiencing.

One of the best ways to create empathy is through listening and drawing on our own experience.

Researcher and author Brené Brown explains: “Empathy is a choice, and it’s a vulnerable choice. Because in order to connect with you, I have to connect with something in myself that knows that feeling.”

And this is just what I do as a coach.

I have a wealth of experiences, good and bad, to draw on and help me tap into a range of emotions, thoughts, and feelings.

By using my own life experiences, I can reassure, comfort, and help people and be sure I am offering useful and effective support.

Of course, that does not mean that I can only empathise with someone going through what I have – everyone’s life experiences are different.

Empathy comes from recognising and sharing the feelings and emotions involved.

Brené Brown says: “Empathy doesn’t require that we have the exact same experiences as the person sharing their story with us. . . empathy is connecting with the emotion that someone is experiencing, not the event or circumstance.”

I quickly realised I had a knack of being able to tune into people’s emotions when I became a team leader at the age of just eighteen and began sales coaching.

I recognised straight away that all the stuff going on outside work could really affect people’s work life and focusing on the whole person helped to support them to feel happier at work.

Listening to my team members and encouraging them to talk was the beginning of my journey as a coach.

I had little life experience at that point, but over the years my own experiences have helped me to learn more about my own mental health and that in turn has helped me to become more empathetic and effective as a coach.

My experience of loss, in particular the death of my son’s father through suicide, has taught me a lot about grief and I am now in the position to be able to use that lived experience to help others.

My focus is always on helping others find ways to help themselves; by drawing on my own experience, being empathetic and listening to them, together we can find a way through the challenges they are facing.

My certifications and training are important, of course . . .without them I could not do what I do. But I feel there is no substitute for lived experience when it comes to finding that all important ingredient of empathy.

Whatever you are struggling with, it is good to talk, so book in a 20-minute session and find out more about how I can help you.

Book your 20 minute call$

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