Post ID 720

Posted by on March 13, 2020

“Don’t just do something, stand there . . .” 

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of an important conversation, and no matter what you try, you can’t seem to be heard by the other person?

Ugh. Now what?

Even though empathy is one of my superpowers, I’m human and sometimes struggle with effectively communicating. I’m constantly learning and practicing just like you. I can especially get hung up with the people closest to me – including ME – and I bet you do too, so here are some thoughts on what it means to be truly heard and understood. 

My bookworm self wants to share some excellent insight about this from a book I recently read. Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Dr. Marshall B Rosenberg is now among my top 10 favourite personal growth books. I resisted reading it for ages as the title turned me off, and now it’s my go-to for healthy relationship support (but if it were up to me, I’d rename it “Compassionate Communication”). Specifically, I like how he defines empathy, outlines 10 behaviours that are NOT empathetic and reminds us to practice empathy with ourselves. 


Empathy Matters

The desire to really be heard and understood is the desire for empathy. 

Empathy is the respectful understanding of what people are experiencing.

Empathy is giving others the time and space they need to express themselves fully and feel understood. 

Empathy is about hearing both the words spoken and the intended meaning behind them.

Empathy requires emptying our minds and listening with our whole being. We’re also listening to what people are needing, not necessarily what they are thinking. 

Empathy lies in our ability to be fully present.

Ahhh, feels good doesn’t it? 

Now that you more fully understand empathy, how does this begin to answer your question about how to be heard? 


10 Obstacles to Empathy

To get to the bottom of this, it can also be helpful to understand what empathy is NOT. I loved this list Dr. Rosenberg shared about the most common behaviours that prevent us from being fully present to connect empathetically with others. Or put another way, none of these are examples of empathising:

  1. Advising – “I think you should . . .” or “How come you didn’t . . .?”
  2. One-upping – “That’s nothing compared to what happened to me . . .” 
  3. Educating – “This could become a positive experience if you just . . .”
  4. Consoling – “It wasn’t your fault, you did the best you could.”
  5. Story-telling – “That reminds me of the time . . .”
  6. Shutting down – “Cheer up. Don’t feel so bad.”
  7. Sympathizing – “Oh, you poor thing.”
  8. Interrogating – “When did this begin?”
  9. Explaining – “She probably did that because . . .”
  10. Correcting – “That’s not how it happened.”

Ooof, just typing those out has me feeling constricted. Of course there are times when these practices are helpful – but not in times of needing to feel heard and understood. 

So again, how does this new understanding of what empathy is NOT further answer your question about how to be heard? 

The next time you want to share something vulnerable with someone, how could you respond differently so that you are able to fully express your experience AND kindly help the other person know how to be present for you in the way you need? 

But there’s more. 

Before you seek empathy from others, are you first getting it from yourself? 

Are YOU listening to yourself? 

We tend to think of empathy as “walking in another person’s shoes” to fully understand them, so it can be odd to think about it as something we can do for ourselves first. 


Self-Empathy is a Thing

It is. I found it when googling. I’ve never heard that term before, but now I’m going to use it. 

I was looking it up because . . .

I know that when we crave something, the best first step is to offer it to ourself.

I know that we cannot make others do someone (ie. be emathetic), but we can do that thing ourself. 

I know that truly listening to ourselves is the starting point to overcoming any struggle.

So I will practice self-empathy more often. And I hope you will too.

How can you use the above definitions of what empathy is and is not to better be present with and fully listen to yourself?

And remember that empathy is my specialty, so if you would appreciate my undivided attention, or could use some support with practicing self-empathy, reach out to me and I would be happy to be present to your unique feelings and needs of the moment. 

Posted in: Community, Empowerment, Heart

Post ID 703

Posted by on October 9, 2019

No doubt you’ve heard of Forest Therapy (Forest Bathing or Shinrin Yoku), the evidence-based therapeutic practice of connecting with the woods. But have you experienced it for yourself? 

On Friday I finally had the chance to enjoy a guided forest therapy walk, and it was even greater than I thought it would be, so I’m excited to tell you a bit about it. I hope to inspire you to get out there among the trees for your psychological, emotional, physical and spiritual health.

I also view forest therapy is a complimentary ‘sister’ practice to my ‘walk and talk’ coaching sessions (which are more outdoor movement oriented), so am excited for you to learn more!

Sue Hamel, the owner, lead seeker and soleful guide of Seek Adventure and Tours, was our warm and gifted host. As a bonus, Ben Porchuk of the Global Institute for Forest Therapy was in town and was a co-host for the morning.

Sue’s Re-Wilding for Wellness Forest Therapy Walk, is a 3-hr opportunity to “immerse yourself in the sentience of the living forest, during a guided walk with sensory-based invitations to deepen connections.” I knew this would be a relaxing and connective experience with the landscape on an easy walk, but beyond that I didn’t know what to expect.

Our hosts met us on the bridge crossing over the Current River, and we entered into the autumn-painted, sunny yet chilly Centennial Park that boasts 147 acres of rich boreal forest. We were a group of 9 and I was surprised to be acquainted with most of the participants. It felt great to be with these kindred spirits in a new context. 

I won’t share too many specific details about the experience, all of which would be hard to put to words anyway. Instead I encourage you to try it for yourself, either with Seek or from a provider in your own local area.

To generally overview, we were guided through a series of “invitations” to practice several new ways to interact with and receive from the natural world around us, sometimes in a circle, with a partner or on our own. Many of us have spent much of our lives enjoying this park, and we agreed that we had never fully enjoyed and engaged with the land in this way. After a heartfelt closing ceremony, we ambled back through the park and over the bridge to return to our everyday lives, more refreshed, grounded and alive than when we arrived. 

One of my favourite takeaways was a deeper appreciation for the value of connection.

Beyond the experience of re-connecting with myself, I also enjoyed greater: 

  • Connection with Nature – The most obvious one, I experienced a deeper connection with nature and learned new and profound ways to be present with and learn from the landscape. We all know that we’re born to connect with nature – we live in, rely on and are nature – yet we often forget about or avoid it.  Surprising research (learned from Ben) indicates that North Americans spend more than 95% of our time indoors, which prohibits us from accessing nature’s many benefits and also leaves us vulnerable to the many stressors of our manufactured society. Contrast that with the fact that just a few hours of forest therapy boosts your immune system for a week(!) and it will have you asking yourself: How will I spend some time being present with nature today?


  •  Connection with the Guides – To effectively guide another is truly an artform, so it was a special treat to witness our leaders in their element. Although I’ve practiced aspects of forest bathing on my own for years, doing so with skilled guides added a layer of magic to the process. As a coaching guide myself, I especially admired how they seamlessly offered their wisdom and experiences while, most importantly, creating the space and allowing for the process to unfold between each of us as individuals and the forest. They truly modeled how “the forest is the therapist, and the guide opens the gate.” Who can you join on an outdoor adventure to take your experience to the next level?


  • Connection with Others – Obviously I love this stuff, so the best part for me was connecting with other nature-inspired people to practice something I normally do on my own. Simply showing up was a great way to reconnect with some old friends and acquaintances and meet some new folks too. More profoundly, hearing others’ personal thoughts and reflections throughout the morning added to my own insights and even  resolved difficult thoughts that I couldn’t work out on my own. And of course being with others made it way more fun too! Who will you invite outside today?


I wholeheartedly recommend that you all try forest therapy, especially Seek’s Re-Wilding for Wellness if you’re in the area. I will continue to use the practices I learned on my own outdoor adventures, and will look forward to my next guided walk in the woods  – maybe when the snow flies. 

And if you’re intrigued about how my ‘walk and talk’ coaching similarly supports your well-being while being outside, simply reply email me so we can arrange a chat. I would love to connect with you to tell you more.

Now I’m off for a walk on this unseasonably warm day in October. How about you?

Yours Outdoors, 


P.S. If you’d love to receive more notes like this directly to your inbox, opt in to my email community by CLICKING HERE!

Posted in: Adventure, Body, Community, Nature
} else if (is_page()) { if (have_posts()) { while (have_posts()) { the_post(); get_template_part( 'parts/content', 'page'); } } else { get_template_part( 'parts/error', 'no_results'); } } else { get_template_part( 'parts/content', 'blog'); } ?>

Simple Business by Nimbus Themes
Powered by WordPress

Book Now

Clarity is Power

Ready to explore what you want and how to get it? Book a FREE Clarity Call to claim your desires and take action toward your dreams!
Book Now!