Attention Please!

 In Personal Coaching

Written by: Sabine Roggermeier; Immersion Coaching

As different as we are we all have a few things in common, one of which is the need to be seen and the desire to be heard. One way or another we all have moments when we crave connection and attention. We want to share our experiences, the highs and the lows. When we share our lows and we haven’t yet figured out what we need to get out of it so we can ask for exactly that, we usually end up receiving one of two emotional reactions: compassion or pity. Now there is a huge difference between the two.

We feel compassion when we truly understand mentally but even more so emotionally what the other person is going through; often due to the fact we went through the same or at least a similar situation. We have empathy. We know what it feels like to have that experience. Nevertheless we don’t see the other person as a victim of the experience, but rather as someone experiencing it. This attitude leaves us with the desire to help them if they but choose to change their circumstances, which we see them capable of doing. We know they can eventually get out of this situation and they can learn the lesson it entails. Compassion is empowering for both people involved and it leaves the receiver feeling supported.

On the other hand when we feel pity for someone else we see him or her lacking something. We feel sorry for them and that they don’t have what it takes to solve their problem. “Oh, you poor little thing!” When we have pity for someone instead of using our own past battles as a means to understand what the other person is going through we might end up unconsciously adding our own unsolved baggage on top of their issues. We can even keep the other person stuck in their victim role with our pity. While compassion draws us closer to the other person pity keeps us separated from him or her. Pity is quite disempowering and literally “be-littling” and it drains the energy of both parties.

When you don’t know which energy you are receiving from the person you’re talking to or from yourself watch for your body’s reaction. It will tell you. Pity makes you feel smaller, curling in your shoulder or your whole torso feeling like it is all too much, but when you are standing in compassion you are feeling tall and centered, ready to succeed.

Can you decide whether you get compassion or pity? Sure! Beyond the choice you have which person to share your experiences with it is your own attitude that makes a huge impact. Simply ask yourself what you are looking for and be honest when you answer: sad looks and expressions such as “Oh, you poor thing!” so as to confirm that what you are going through is a horrible thing, no wonder you feel so bad? Or understanding for both the severity of your challenge as well as its chance to learn from it and your capability to do so? Honestly: both are valid. Sometimes we need to have a little pity party, but in the end what do you want to be: small or tall?



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