Tuesday, 16 May 2017

There Is No Good Card For This

Finished May 7
There Is No Good Card For This: What to Say and Do When Life is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love by Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell, illustrated by Emily McDowell

I was attracted to this book partly because I love Emily McDowell's line of Empathy Cards, and partly because scary, awful, and unfair things are happening to people I love and I always struggle trying to find a way to show I care and am glad to do what I can to help, but don't really know what to say or do. This book does help.
The book has three sections: Laying Some Groundwork; The Three Touchstones of Showing Up; and Just Help Me Not Be a Disaster.
They start with the acknowledgement that we all know empathy and compassion are good things and that we want to be helpful friends, but that we are not perfect and we're never going to be. It is important to start with your own mindset. Aligning your actions with your intentions puts you in a better place, making you more able to reach out. They share their own stories of bad things that happened, and things that people said and did, from both sides: the person bad things happened to, and the person who wanted to help people bad things happened to. This insight and the research they've put into this help with the core message in this book which is trust. They look at what the barriers are for us in doing the right thing, and explore how to surmount them.
The three touchstones of part two are kindness, listening, and small gestures. They use examples of what to do and say, and what not to do and say, and show why we often mix them up. Sometimes it is about trying to connect when we should be just listening. Sometimes it is about showing kindness and not worrying about finding the "perfect" thing to say or do. The show the difference between compassion and pity and why it is so important not to go to pity. They also emphasize that even if you have been through something similar, this is not you, and they won't feel exactly the same way that you do, so don't assume they will. This means never using that line "I know how you feel," in any of its disguises. You don't. Instead, listen to them, but don't press them to talk if they aren't ready or willing to. Just show that you are there willing to listen if and when they are ready. Don't obligate them to respond to you if they aren't ready. Make sure they know that. For all of these three things in part two, they give good examples and show situations with possible actions.
The third part goes into more detail about what we might say, and why not to, and suggests things to say instead. They give some cheat sheets for different situations. Remember that it isn't about you. It's about them.
A great book, and so useful.

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