In my previous life, I was a staff photographer at a mid-sized newspaper. The quality of my work depended upon my ability to relate to others, to listen, and to empathize in a culture vastly different from the one in which I was raised. I found the experience both exhilarating and exhausting – “entering the world of others” became such second-nature that it enhanced my sense of community, understanding, and respect for the citizens with whom I served and interacted.
I left the profession in part due to the threat of downsizing, but also largely because the newspaper exerted pressure upon me to limit the depth of my social interaction (make it quick) and to sensationalize bad news (accidents, deaths). My professional obligations began to feel like a form of disrespect to those relationships I worked so hard to foster in the field.
This experience played a large part in shaping me into the person I am today. I empathized with a vast array of people on the best and worst days of their lives. I’ve cheered with them in the rain, danced alongside them in celebration, listened to their stories in their homes, and sobbed over lost lives. Humanity is rich and beautiful.
Every single person has a story to tell.
Empathy and listening are foundational to the work I do at Thrive Inside Nutrition. Often my clients have been told that their children are simply “going through a stage,” that their anxiety is “all in their head,” or that their congestion or hives shouldn’t be a problem because their allergy testing is negative. Can you imagine the frustration in sharing your story and being told that your discomfort isn’t relevant?
So, I listen. I listen so closely that I bring up connections that are new to my clients, and I ask them to check in with their intuition. You see, a mother knows when something is “off” with her child, just as you probably know when that itching or anxiety attack is something more than a one-time occurrence. Believe it or not, you are an expert when it comes to your health – and your stories and deserve to be heard.
With listening and empathy comes healing. Sometimes that comes in the form of seeking expert help, and sometimes it simply comes from sharing our stories with neighbors, friends, or strangers who are willing to listen.
Wishing everyone deep, soul-level healing today, on this momentous day in our country. Remember to breathe, remember to love, and remember that you’re not in this alone.