Jane Carter | Kindness and Compassion In The Face Of Anger | K&C 9

Photo by Max LaRochelle on Unsplash

In this episode Gordon talks with Jane Carter, LPC a therapist and private practice business coach about how we handle anger in the context of kindness and compassion. We explore how being “polite” does not always equate to being kind. In fact, sometimes politeness can be a form of anger turned inward. We also explore how expressing our anger in healthy ways can lead to greater emotional intimacy and be an act of kindness and compassion. We also look at how we can confront injustices as an act of kindness and compassion.

Meet Jane Carter

 

Jane Carter, LPC

Jane Carter, LPC is a counselor and business coach from Asheville, NC. Jane has spent the last several years in private practice as a counselor and has recently begun focusing more on business coaching, not only for therapists but other businesses as well. Her website is: JaneCarterCoaching.com

Jane says, “As a therapist, business coach, and life coach, I love helping people navigate the path to achieving their goals for a meaningful life. I apply these principles in my own life in the mountains of Asheville, NC, where I’m an outdoorswoman, world-traveler, dog-mama, food-and-wine lover, reader, and coffee-shop connoisseur. (I’m also known for making up great puns on the fly).”

How do we handle anger in a genuine way without turning into a jerk?

One concept that is important to understand is the difference between anger and rage. Anger is actually a useful emotion in that it is a signal for when something is not right or amiss. Anger serves to protect us from harm. Rage on the other hand is when anger runs unchecked and does harm to others. Anger can be a “check engine” light and being able to say, something is not right here. It indicates that a boundary is being violated. Jane says, “anger is a tool that God has given us to protect ourselves and also let us know when things are just not right”.

Anger as Change Agent

Anger can be a very good motivator for change. Jane gives the example of John Lewis and the civil rights movement. How we respond with love even when people are greeted with anger and disdain. The key is to be able to look beyond our own fear and see the humanity of others. That even though we might not agree with the other we see the hurt and fear of others.

It is possible to be angry with someone without it being an end to the relationship. Jane mentions that sometimes we get angry because we care about the other person. She says, “indifference is not love”. Anger has a way of signaling us that something is not right in the relationship. And we do ourselves a disservice by pretending that everything is okay.

The key to handling anger with kindness is slowing things down and being curious about what is happening with the other person.

“Legit Beef”

Jane shares listening to a radio show where people would call in and talk about what they were angry about. And the radio host would commemorate by saying “that’s legit beef” or “that’s not legit beef”. There are times when anger comes because of “legit beef”. And in some of those situations, anger is the appropriate emotion. So don’t talk yourself out of your “legit beef”, but instead allow yourself to be curious about that.

“Bless Their Hearts”

Jane tells a story about walking down the road and a truck coming by really fast and close to her. Jane shares that her first reaction was to yell and curse at the guy driving the truck. And then almost instinctively, when she recognized her own anger, was to say “bless his heart” (it’s a southern saying…). And the challenge then becomes, can we truly mean “bless their heart” as an act of compassion. That whatever the other person is experiencing, we can have compassion for them. The key to showing kindness and compassion when faced with anger is to be able to continue to see the other person as a child of God worthy of our love and kindness. We slow things down and take a minute to acknowledge the other’s humanity.

Acknowledge and Embrace Your Anger

Jane reminds us that when dealing with anger we shouldn’t try to always get rid of the anger, but to acknowledge it and learn to slow things down enough to get curious with what is happening. Then be able to say what we need in that moment and be able to connect to the other person’s humanity.

Jane shares that we don’t always succeed in dealing with our anger well, but the key again is being able to acknowledge the anger and slow things down.

Another key to dealing with anger is recognizing the dichotomy of being angry with someone and still being engaged with them. Again, it is possible to have a mixture of emotions, in other words, “both and” instead of just “either or”. The key to being able to do this well is in treating people with kindness and the work of reconciliation. We might not always see things in the same way, but we can stay engaged and be willing to listen and hear the other person’s point of view.

“Rage shames, but anger is a tool of connection”

We can share our anger with another and this has the potential of creating emotional intimacy. To share how we have been hurt or feel afraid is an act of vulnerability. And this is what creates connection and intimacy.

Jane reminds us too, that we shouldn’t turn our anger inward or try to shut it down. That is a form of inward rage and is self serving. Jane said, “that some of the kindest moments from friends has been when they have been willing to confront me”. It was an invitation to intimacy and closeness for them to be able to share what was bothering them.

“Inward rage is people pleasing. Outer rage is people shaming.”

In many ways being able to share our anger with others is an act of kindness that requires a lot of courage. When we share our anger in healthy ways it gives us the ability to connect at a much deeper level. It also is healing and reconciling.

However, in situations where it is really not safe to share your anger, it can be useful to hold back. People that have grown up in traumatic situations, such as abusive relationships, turning anger inward becomes a survival tool. But this is not sustainable and a person really should work through this with the help of a professional.

Being Polite Isn’t Always Kind

Being polite is not always the kind thing to do. There are times when we need to call things out and speak truth to things that are not right. In many ways, this was what Jesus taught and was the point of his ministry.

“Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable”
Jane speaks of her ongoing work of reconciliation around racism. Jane reminds us that being polite has been used by white people to maintain oppression. In that we need to speak truth to injustice and that is not always pretty. And when we are willing to disrupt things, that is an act of tough love. It is an invitation to compassion.

Moral Injury

When we dehumanize others, we not only hurt them, but we hurt ourselves. We have learned this from veterans who have been in war situations where they have had to harm others. Their harm to others creates a moral injury to themselves. It goes against their core values of seeing others as human beings.

Boundaries

Jane talks about Brene Brown’s work and the importance of boundaries. Jane says that when we have good boundaries with ourselves and others, it is an act of compassion. It takes away the fear and allows us to have more freedom and autonomy. “I can have the space to have more compassion because I can say no”.

Conclusion

As counterintuitive as it sounds, the emotion of anger can be a tool for showing kindness and compassion. Anger is a signal within ourselves that something is amiss. When we are hurt or afraid we experience anger. But anger can also be a prompt for us to call out things that are not right. In that when boundaries are crossed, anger can help us to confront what is wrong. And when we handle and express our anger in healthy ways, it is a way to connect and reconcile with others. It is an act of kindness and compassion to be vulnerable enough to name what is wrong and allow people to come close.

Gordon (00:00):
Well, hello everyone. And welcome again to the podcast. And I'm so glad and thrilled for you all to get to hear from my good friend and colleague Jane Carter. Jane, welcome to the podcast.
Jane (00:14):
Thank you. I'm so happy to be here, Gordon.
Gordon (00:16):
Yes. Uh, Jane and I have known each other for a good, good bit of time now. And we've had all these divergent, uh, our, our paths have crossed in many interesting ways. First, I guess, kind of per professionally, just, uh, we had got Jane had hosted a conference in Asheville, North Carolina, the brew, your practice, uh, conference or workshop or whatever we, we, we call that thing. Uh, but also I, we found out through our conversations that we are, are both Episcopalian and, um, have a lot of church crossover as well. So Jane, I'm gonna stop talking about you and let you tell a little bit more about yourself and of your work as a therapist and a coach and all of that sort of thing.
Jane (01:05):
Yeah. Okay. Um, gosh, where to start. I'll, I'll try to be brief cuz I'm a rambler, but um, I, I love living in the mountains. Um, I love where I am. I love that you're nearby mm-hmm and that've gotten to intersect in all of these ways. Um, okay. A little bit about myself. Um, I'm a therapist in private practice. I've been doing therapy for 20 years, almost 21 years. Um, but I've been also a first of private practice coach and then I expanded to other solopreneurs, um, to work with in my coaching business. Um, gosh, six or seven years ago. It was not long before I met you. Mm-hmm and in my counseling practice, I always said that I specialized in working with stressed out people pleasers, uh, probably because I am, I have been one I'm one in recovery and our ideal client tends to be some version of ourselves. Um, but it's funny. I find that the same thing often happens in my coaching practice. Um, I have have a lot of coaching clients who are starting their small business or they're in their small business and they're also needing to learn how to do boundaries really well, um, and find the fun in things and, and they might be working on their own people pleasing. So it's, it's been really fascinating to see how much overlap there is between my two practices. Um, right. I joke that I make my coaching clients cry too.
Gordon (02:39):
Yes. Yes. Well, yeah. And, and I, Jane and I are of the same mold. I'm a, I'm the quintessential people pleaser I'm uh, you know, I'm curious, I, I think we talked about this before Jane, but I'm an engram two. Is that where you are?
Jane (02:58):
Are you, I'm a nine
Gordon (02:59):
You're a nine. Interesting. You're interesting. So I'll probably have to do a whole episode on the engram because that'll make, make, make more sense to people, us talking about that. But yeah. So one, one of the things that I know E even I struggle with at times is, um, which is, is I, I think something that we is is, is a struggle probably for a lot of people, is that when we're feeling angry or just downright pissed off about something, but we don't show it externally and we put on this nice face mm-hmm something happens. You wanna say more about that?
Jane (03:40):
Uh, it comes sideways, huh? Anger always goes somewhere
Gordon (03:47):
Mm-hmm .
Jane (03:48):
And, and anything that I'm saying here, I'm saying it to myself as much as to anyone who's listening, by the way, , these are all things that, you know, first I learned in therapy, and then I've continued to talk about it. Um, you know, you and I both grew up Southern and Christian mm-hmm and, you know, I think part of just learning and growing is just even understanding my own context that, oh, culturally I was raised to be really polite and to sh that sh that anger not okay. And that it wasn't feminine, but also it wasn't Christian mm-hmm . Um, so a lot of my development and I think probably for a lot of us has been learning, oh, wait a second. What does it mean to be able to name anger and own it and have it be healthy and not turn into a jerk, you know, mean like, that doesn't mean that the pendulum has to swing in the other direction. Yeah. Um, and, and what does that even look like? So, I mean, if I were gonna sum up everything, I wanna say, even it would just be, you know, anger is healthy and there there's a difference between anger and rage
Gordon (05:01):
Mm-hmm
Jane (05:01):
, but anger itself, it's just a feeling and it's often there to help. It's often there to, to, you know, I, I talk about it as a tool that God has given us. Mm-hmm to tell us, Hey, something's not right here.
Gordon (05:15):
Right, right. Yeah. When I, and I just thinking about the work that I do with my clients, um, know anger comes up a lot, you know, um, mm-hmm, , you know, so many, uh, you know, for those of us that are in kind of therapy practices, you know, the whole, whole term anger management comes into play mm-hmm , which I've never liked that term really, but I think of anger as, um, kind of a superficial emotion in that it it's what we see on the surface, but the thing about anger is that it it's there to protect us. Right. Um, yeah. And so, you know, an animal or the cave man got backed into the corner by the saber tooth tire, in order for them to survive that situation, they had to get angry. And so in that sense, anger, anger serves to protect us. But I think about anger as being driven by hurt and fear underneath mm-hmm . And so when we get hurt, we get angry agree when we get fearful, we get angry. And so, yeah. So curious what your thoughts on that as well? Just thinking about it.
Jane (06:26):
Yeah. So yes, I agree that sometimes anger really is hurt or fear coming, coming out in a certain way. And there are a lot of people, I think, especially, um, like in toxic rescue or in certain households where the only acceptable emotion is anger. So everything get filtered through that.
Gordon (06:46):
Mm-hmm
Jane (06:47):
Um, but I, I really appreciate it. I went to a, an anger workshop, um, by John Harold Lee, who's just fantastic. He wrote a great book called the anger solution and he said, and sometimes anger is anger and that's okay, too. Mm-hmm
Gordon (07:00):

Jane (07:01):
Mm-hmm and it really, uh, it, it takes kind of checking in with ourselves of like, okay, well, what, yeah. I'm feeling this. So can I slow down the process sort of when you were talking to Brian Cole, who's a mutual friend of ours. Mm-hmm um, and he was talking about slowing it down so that we aren't reactive, you know, when we slow it down, it gives us the chance to go, okay, I'm noticing that I'm feeling anger. Where is this coming from? Is this fear, is this sadness, is this pure anger? And sometimes anger is anger. Um, because it's teach it's, it's kind of indicating to us, it's like a little check, like saying either something needs to change or there's a boundary being violated here. Mm-hmm . And one of the gifts of anger is that it tells us where our boundaries are. Cause we may not know until we go, wait a second, this isn't okay.
Gordon (08:00):
Yes. Yeah.
Jane (08:01):
You know, and, and in that sense, our boundaries are what help kind of define us and define, okay, where do I end? And where does the other person begin? And so anger is a gift and that it tells me, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. My boundary is being violated. And this is part of me. My anger is part of me. Mm-hmm
Gordon (08:19):
Mm-hmm
Jane (08:20):
and can I listen to it without getting reactive?
Gordon (08:24):
Right, right. Yes. I, you know, I want, you know, one of the things that I think a lot of us have experienced over the last few years with, with COVID with, uh, the black lives matter movement mm-hmm , um, you know, and, and hear more recently that war in Ukraine. Yeah. Those are all, um, potential, well, anger, anger, inducing kinds of, of events, you know, with, with the COVID, you know, what, regardless of how you, what you think about vaccines and all of that sort of thing, and people wearing mask and not wearing mask and all of that brings up a lot of anger for folks. And then, then when, when confronted with, at least for me confronted with some racial justice that we've, we've, we've really kind of called out, it's been there all along mm-hmm , mm-hmm, , there's this, this underlying racism.
Gordon (09:23):
Sure. Particularly for, for those of us in the south, I say, and, and it's, it's universal throughout the country in the United States, but I think for, for almost there's this underlying anger, and then more recently with the, the war in Ukraine and what we see the, uh, Russian leaders, Putin, and all of them doing to innocent people, all of that is anger producing. And so what do we do with that? I mean, how do we, how do we respond? And I'm wondering this too, and I'm just kind of thinking out loud here. Sure. Jane, is that, um, are there times when it's not appropriate to be kind and compassionate and are there times when we need to be angry? Yeah, yeah.
Jane (10:14):
Yeah. Oh, that's a great question. And I, I think it depends on how you define kindness. Um, I think it's really important that we delineate between being nice or polite versus being kind mm-hmm
Gordon (10:31):

Jane (10:32):
And sometimes kindness is not polite. Sometimes kindness isn't even nice. Um, some you, I was listening, speaking of, you know, racial injustice, I was, I was listening to an interview that John Lewis did with Krista Tippet on, on being, um, this was maybe a couple years before he died. Um, and you know, , he was talking about during the civil rights movement, which by the way, the, the whole civil rights movement started because of anger. Mm-hmm,
Gordon (11:05):

Jane (11:06):
Righteous, anger saying something needs to change. So again, Mo anger can be a really good motivator. It can, it can be a good thing, but they didn't succumb to hatred or rage mm-hmm . And again, rage is a very different thing. Rage is the, the behaviors we do to avoid having to feel our anger, um, and, and rage. This is a little side note, rage can come out and, and this is all, um, what I learned from John Lee, who is wonderful. It can be that explosive thing, but it can also be inward rage where stuff, everything mm-hmm , or it can be passive aggression, or, you know, in the south, we love to do the kinda, well, I wouldn't do that, but when you do whatever you wanna do, like it can come across.
Jane (11:53):
So John Lewis was talking about how they worked so hard to connect with love and kindness for these people who were just, I mean, trying to kill them mm-hmm or attack them and, and kindness. It, what I thought as I was listening to him is that kindness is not passivity. Kindness does not have the, a nature of being passive mm-hmm kindness is active. They had to train for months, EV you know, with people, with white people, pretending to be the people that were gonna beat them up later, they had to train and dis you know, how am I gonna respond with love, even when this person hates me, when they're beating me up, when they're dragging me along the street. Um, and, and that, that was such an active
Gordon (12:46):
Mm-hmm
Jane (12:47):
Stance where they said, okay, yeah, of course they felt angry. And of course you can be angry at someone who is perpetrating injustice against you. And yet, if can you have the active discipline to practice going, okay. And this person was a baby once mm-hmm they were taught this, or, you know, maybe they were made to feel unimportant and this makes them feel important. Or, you know, what's the larger context of this. And can I connect with, I love for them as a human, even as I am furious at them and rightfully so.
Gordon (13:21):
Yeah. Yeah. And we see that all the time's,
Jane (13:24):
I'm not angry. I'm not angry. It's fine. That's not, it's not that passivity.
Gordon (13:29):
Right. Right. Yeah. And, and it's a, you know, I, I know in my work with couples, um, , you know, it's, it's very possible to be totally angry with someone mm-hmm , but at the same time, still committed to the relationship and committed to, to loving the person. And, uh, and, and that, that sort of thing. Yeah. Yeah.
Jane (13:51):
In fact, if you were, uh, emotionally detached and, uh, was the word I'm looking for, um, and, uh, oh gosh. It's, it's just evading me. Um, yeah. Indifferent indifference is not love mm-hmm
Gordon (14:07):
Right.
Jane (14:07):
You know, like sometimes people feel angry because they love the, I mean, oh gosh, that could go into bad territory. Mm-hmm they feel strongly about what's happening because they love the other person. I don't mean to say, oh, he, you know, there's, this is not like a justifying abuse type thing, you know? Oh, he's angry. Cause he loves me. Um, not okay. You know, kindness is not codependency.
Gordon (14:29):
right. To be clear, right. Yes, yes. Right. That makes sense. Yeah. Yeah.
Jane (14:34):
Again, you know, if I'm, if I'm in a couple and, or I'm working with a couple and, and someone's having a strong response again, can we slow it down enough to bring curiosity to that and say, you know, okay, well, what, what is this about? Where is it coming from? Um, is this legit anger or is this tied to something else? Um, this is
Gordon (14:56):
Mm-hmm
Jane (14:57):
You're gonna think I'm so weird. Gordon. I was, I was in the car with a friend and we were listening to her fatal favorite satellite radio show where people would call in and the, the, the radio guy would, what your beef is.
Gordon (15:12):
People say,
Jane (15:14):
My friend did da da, and then she, no, no, no. They would say whatever they were angry about Uhhuh and he, and his cohost would either say that is legit beef, or that's not legit beef
Gordon (15:24):
yeah. It
Jane (15:25):
Was the funniest show. I don't even know what it was called. Yeah. But I, I have this shorthand with some of my clients well, where I'll be like, that's legit beef. Like, don't talk yourself outta your anger quite yet. and doesn't say that I'm like, I'm the whitest person in the world. I'm like quoting this person, But you know, but where I'm like, this is legit beef. Yeah. And don't talk yourself outta your legit beef again. Can you bring curiosity to that and say, okay, well, what was the wrong? And mm-hmm can I, first of all, can I just take the time to kind of, if I need to cool off, if I need to just be in that anger state and just feel what I'm feeling mm-hmm , you know, maybe discharge some of that energy first. So that then I don't just get rid to the anger by raging.
Gordon (16:14):
Yes. That make sense. Yes. Uhhuh. Yes. So, yeah. So I I'm thinking that this might bring up, can
Jane (16:20):
I, can I take the time to connect with their humanity?
Gordon (16:23):
Yes. Yes. I I'm. I'm thinking that as you're saying this, there might be some people that are thinking, okay, what, how can I be kind with my anger? Um, yeah. And what would that look like? Yeah. Yeah.
Jane (16:39):
Um, so it's funny. I, I'm gonna tell you a little story of, as I was preparing or, you know, just thinking about this conversation. Mm-hmm I was taking some, uh, some audio notes and in my phone and, and walking along the street and this huge truck, like room, movie, it was a 25 mile per hour zone. And they just flew by me really closely. And I yelled out, I was like, slow the ass down you. I was just so mad. I was raging, but I was terrified, you know, and I was just really annoyed cause on this one stretch of road that always happens, especially with the guys in the big trucks. So I'm, I'm re-listing to my audio notes about kindness and compassion
Gordon (17:22):

Jane (17:25):
And I'm like, like yelling cuss words to this guy who couldn't hear me obviously. And then, and I started laughing and then I was like, well, bless his heart. And cause you know, in the south we have a saying, you can say anything about anyone, as long as you say, bless her heart or bless
Gordon (17:42):
Her heart. Right, right.
Jane (17:45):
And, and I thought about it though, even in that moment, I was like, I kind of chuckled that. I, I instinctively like, it doesn't even cross my mind. I instinctively go bless his heart and it's almost become passive aggressive thing. Like I'll, you know, I'll just say that. So I don't have to say a bad thing. Um, but then I thought, you know, okay, along the lines of John Lewis, like that's kind of what they were doing. Could I sincerely say, bless his heart. I'm really angry at this person who almost ran over me and can I bless him? Can I say a little prayer that whatever he's dealing with gets healed or whatever makes him need to do that
Gordon (18:24):
Right. Is
Jane (18:25):
Healed, you know, can I take a minute to acknowledge his humanity? Know that if he walked into my counseling office tomorrow, I would immediately feel compassion for him and, and have a totally different stance. Like how can I help you? How can I be here for you? Like you are a human being. And, and so I think what helped, you know, in terms of like feeling the anger, I think again, don't just get rid of the anger or say that it's unacceptable. Can we acknowledge our anger and slow it down enough to go, okay, mm-hmm what do I need to be able to then connect to that? Person's humanity. Yes.
Gordon (19:02):
You
Jane (19:02):
Know, even this is so hard, but like, am I praying for Putin?
Gordon (19:09):
Mm-hmm
Jane (19:09):
not really, I'm pissed at him. I'm angry right now. Right, right. Um, and can I get curious about what kind of childhood did he have mm-hmm right. And that, that doesn't mean that it's an excuse, but it means everyone has humanity. Everyone is a child of God. Mm-hmm Can I even just a little bit connect with that? Some days I may not be able to
Gordon (19:35):
Mm-hmm
Jane (19:35):
but I'm, I'm at least supposed to have a practice of trying to do that.
Gordon (19:39):
Right, right. Yeah. You know, one, one of the things that I think, um, some people struggle with is, um, this dichotomy of emotions that comes out for us and that we think of, okay, if I'm, if I'm angry at someone or I'm angry at something, then I can't, I can't also embrace that. Or I can't also, um, you know, still stay engaged with that person or that right. That thing. And the, and the truth of the matter is the, we are capable of doing not either or, but both. And absolutely. Yeah. And so, and I think part of the thing is, is that, um, where kindness comes in, I think is when we are angry at someone that we also stay engaged with them, even though we're, we're expressing our anger. Yes. And, and, and, and we do that in a kind way where we're not belittling them as a person, but really yeah. You know, that, that, that old cliche, I, you know, I don't, I hate the sin, not the center kind of thing. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That,
Jane (20:50):
Yeah. But it's true. I mean, cliches are cliches for a reason. Right.
Gordon (20:54):
Mm-hmm right.
Jane (20:55):
So, I mean, I love the, um, I love the nonviolent communication model. Mm-hmm because it's basically a, a really good formula for practicing. How do I acknowledge anger or any other emotion or offense or whatever, and, and offer the opportunity for reconciliation without shaming, the other person, or indicating that they are less than worthy mm-hmm of love and belonging, which is shame, right? Like shame, rage, shame. Anger is actually a tool of connection. Mm-hmm , mm-hmm, says, Hey, I'm, I'm gonna let you, like, if I decide to share my anger, I'm actually inviting intimacy with that person. I'm saying, I'm letting you know, this affected me and that we need to repair.
Gordon (21:41):
Yeah.
Jane (21:42):
If I do inward rage, which is the people pleasing, I'm just gonna shove my feelings down and be really polite. Um, I am now I'm serving myself, first of all, I'm serving my own fear and self protection. Mm-hmm , I'm not serving the other person in that case. Right, right. Um, but I'm also robbing them of the chance to be disrupted in a way that we could be closer or that they can. I mean, the, some of the kindest moments from friends have been when they've been willing to confront me about ways that I haven't been a good friend. Yes. And I appreciated it so much more that they were willing to let me feel that pain than just disengaging.
Gordon (22:27):
Right,
Jane (22:27):
Right,
Gordon (22:28):
Right. Oh, I,
Jane (22:29):
Yeah. But outer rage, you know, inward rage is people pleasing. Right. Outer rage. If I blast that person to smithereens and shame them, that's not helping anyone.
Gordon (22:43):
Right.
Jane (22:43):
Certainly not creating intimacy.
Gordon (22:45):
Right. Right. Oh, I love that. I, I, I you've really helped kinda re you frame something in that. Yeah. I hadn't really thought about, um, being angry with someone in a, in a healthy way really is an act of intimacy and vulnerability and that you're, yeah. You're opening yourself up and sharing with them. Um, you're, you're internal world and, and that's a scary thing. And I think that's one reason. So many people do tend to be people pleasers is that they, yeah. They, they don't want to get that vulnerable with others.
Jane (23:23):
Sure. And, and, you know, I, I really recognize that people pleasing is often a, a survival, excuse me, for survival tools from trauma mm-hmm because if you grow up in a setting where that's not safe, where you really do need to hide away the anger, because you will get hurt in a big way or rejected or traumatized, um, you know, a lot of people develop it, develop it as a survival skill, and it's harder to unlearn later. It's really scary to set that down. And yet we need that for intimacy mm-hmm
Gordon (23:58):
.
Jane (23:59):
And, and even, you know, when I think about, you know, we've had a lot of very, very interesting political situations in my family,
Gordon (24:08):
Uhhuh.
Jane (24:09):
It's funny, my mom, and, uh, we've had a couple of moments where we were just outright kinda lost our minds and were yelling about stuff. I'm, uh, I'll say I actually am like, mom, it's actually great that we can yell at each other cuz growing up, I was such a people pleaser that I didn't. And I'm like, aren't you glad I can do anger? You can do anger. Now we can do
Gordon (24:31):
Anger together for, for
Jane (24:33):
Recovering Southern Christian women.
Gordon (24:35):
and she's
Jane (24:36):
Like, yes, it's wonderful.
Gordon (24:37):

Jane (24:38):
But you know, five minutes later we'll be like snuggling on the couch with each other. It's like, you know, I love you. I know. And I love you love me, you know that it's like, isn't it great that we love each other enough that we know we can have a political fight and not hate each other or lose respect for each other. Yes. And I, I really see that as a gift. Yes. Um, but all that to say, like if I, so, so back to like on an individual level, there's a intimacy on a, on a general level when things are happening in the world that truly are wrong or unjust
Gordon (25:13):
Mm-hmm
Jane (25:14):
it is so hard to discern or let me, lemme rephrase. It's hard for me not to be polite. Mm-hmm and I might be in a room full of people who are all on the same page where I'm like, no, no, no, what you're saying is wrong, this is not okay.
Gordon (25:30):
Mm-hmm
Jane (25:31):
and if I, especially as someone who claims to be a follower of Christ, like am I, they think they might think I'm being kinder by being quiet mm-hmm right. But kindness might actually be me being willing to disrupt and say, no, no, no, that's wrong. That's not okay. And I'm angry. And I might not get invited to as many cocktail parties in the south, but mm-hmm
Gordon (25:59):
Yes.
Jane (25:59):
But I I'm okay. Being Debbie downer and saying that's, that's not okay. And, and I'm, I would say maybe 50% of the time I'm that brave. I'm still working on it, but mm-hmm I don't, I don't know who said it, but they, um, I love the quote. Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and afflicted and
Gordon (26:22):
Say that again, Jane. Cause we say that again, Jane, we froze,
Jane (26:26):
Froze up. So I don't know who said it, but it was it's the idea. Jesus came to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
Gordon (26:33):
Mm.
Jane (26:34):
And Jesus, wasn't always polite. And, and I think sometimes, but, and yet, and yet Jesus was very loving
Gordon (26:43):
Mm-hmm mm-hmm
Jane (26:45):
right. I mean, to the core. So, And, and you know, part of my own journey of trying to learn more about racial injustice and I still have such a far way to go, but is even realizing that politeness often a tool of oppression. Right. And that I've been really polite and sometimes I'm still too polite.
Gordon (27:10):
Mm-hmm
Jane (27:10):
because I'd rather be self-protective than speak up and, and speaking up is actually, you know, to the only way to fight oppression is to speak it and just say, no, this is wrong.
Gordon (27:25):
Right.
Jane (27:26):
And so politeness can really preserve, you know, we white people really don't like to be uncomfortable.
Gordon (27:33):
No, that's right. That's right.
Jane (27:36):
Yeah. You know, there are people trying to outlaw that in schools right now, like don't, you dare make white people uncomfortable, but this is a, that's a whole rabbit trail I could go down. But, but all that to say, right, right. Is that, that being disrupted is often a sign of love. It's it's creating space for others to be loved who have been treated unjustly mm-hmm
Gordon (27:55):
.
Jane (27:56):
Um, and when others are willing to disrupt us, it's actually love, it's tough love, but it's
Gordon (28:00):
Love. Yeah. Yes. It's really a it's it's a, you, you know, as I think about it in that context, it's really an invitation to begin to, to show some compassion for others.
Jane (28:14):
Yeah,
Gordon (28:14):
Yeah. Yeah. And if
Jane (28:17):
I love, I love how you put that Gordon. And when we invite others, to be more compassionate, that in itself is an act of kind. I mm-hmm because there there's a, um, I wanna say the phrase is moral injury. I could be getting that wrong.
Gordon (28:33):
Yes. Uhhuh mm-hmm
Jane (28:34):
that when we are not being compassionate, when we are not seeing others as worthy of love and belonging or, or if we're dehumanizing people, not only are they, they harmed, but we are harmed, we are killing a part of our souls.
Gordon (28:48):
Yes, yes, absolutely.
Jane (28:50):
And so if someone is willing to call me out for not being compassionate or for being degrading to humanity, the humanity of someone else, they're actually helping me too. Yes. But of course, with the other person.
Gordon (29:04):
Right. And my, of just, uh, having worked with, um, with some veterans and that sort of thing yet, just that, that moral injury phenomenon is something you see with, with veterans that where they've been their in war and they're having to harm other people when it just goes against their, you know, with they, what they feel and believe totally internally. So, I mean, that's just, again, that's a whole rabbit trail. We could go down. Sure. We're just talking about that time. Well,
Jane (29:36):
You know, bring it, I mean, Episcopalians gotta keep, bring it back. And if, you know, I've been taught that if I, even if I hate someone, if I see them as less than human mm-hmm, I might as well have killed them. Like, it's that that's the as murder, right. Uhhuh mm-hmm We it's the same. I mean, you know yeah. In the same way a veterans cert I'm not in the same way, but you know, a veteran is harmed if they have had to kill someone, even if they're doing it to try to protect others. Right. Um, we are also injured when we are hardening our hearts in that way. Yes. And, uh, it is hard. This is difficult.
Gordon (30:16):
Yes. This is. And I, again,
Jane (30:17):
I don't wanna claim to have solved it. Like this is a lifelong,
Gordon (30:21):
Right.
Jane (30:23):
But can I, again, can I kind of okay. Bless your heart. yeah. Drew a sense of the word.
Gordon (30:28):
Yeah.
Jane (30:29):
Can I be really angry at someone? And even if I hate them sometimes can I reconnect with, and this is a human being.
Gordon (30:37):
Yes. Yes. And to me that's the, when we can do that and we might not do it well, we might, might be really messy and not, might not be a hundred percent when we do that. But I think when we do that, that is when we, we practice kindness and compassion towards others.
Jane (30:56):
And I I'll bring it back too, to the idea of boundaries. Mm-hmm cause something that I loved, I, I think I'm capable of being on a podcast and not talking about bene brown, but , it's just built up, but I loved, she pointed out that boundaries are the best way to have compassion that the most boundary people are the most compassionate people Uhhuh . So when we have clear boundaries, when we know where do I end and where do you begin? Or when do I speak up about something being wrong or hurtful? Um, it's kind of like, like if you take a, a dog to the dog park, you know, if there wasn't a fence, if there was just a field next to a road, people would either be so tense that their dog was gonna run into the road, you know, and, and, and hold the dog really close, or they'd be, you know, maybe accidentally letting the dog get hit by a car in the road.
Jane (31:54):
Once you have a fence, which is a boundary, the dogs can run free and be happy and playful and be themselves mm-hmm and be, be doggy, you know, and right. And so when we have really clear boundaries, when we really pay attention to what's my anger telling me about where my boundaries need to be, again, it, it allows us the freedom to be able to have room for compassion. You know, I'm not afraid that you're gonna run over me now, um, or that you're gonna cling to me or, or that you're gonna run, run, run away way away, away. Right. Like,
Gordon (32:28):
Right, right.
Jane (32:30):
I, I can have the space to be more compassionate because I know I can say no to someone.
Gordon (32:35):
Right, right. Oh man. I love this stuff. I love this stuff. And you know, I, I've gotta be respectful of your time. Uh, Jim, but, uh, yes, I know. I know, but we, this, this will end up being a really, really long episode, but , but, but that's that's okay. So tell folks how they can get in touch with you and if they wanna have more. And, and, and I promise folks, Jane will be back on this podcast because she's the, oh, thank you. Exactly. The kind of, she she's my people. And so she's gonna be back here. So, um, Jane tell folks how they can get in touch with you and connect with you if they'd like to,
Jane (33:17):
Um, the easiest way to reach me is, uh, you can email me at Jane Jane Carter, coaching.com, or my website is Jane Carter, coaching.com. I'm on Instagram at Jane Carter coaching. Uh, it's mostly business related stuff. Mm-hmm , but I love to hear from people. And obviously I love good conversations.
Gordon (33:34):
Yes, yes. And, and Jane, uh, we we'll have all this in the show notes and the show, so summary for people so they can connect and find you. Um, so yeah, so we'll do this again.
Jane (33:47):
Awesome. This is Gordon. You.

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About

L. Gordon Brewer Jr., LMFT |Podcast Host – Gordon has spent his career in helping professions as a licensed therapist, counselor, trainer, and clergy person.  He has worked with 100’s of people in teaching them the how to better manage their emotions through self-care and the practices of kindness and compassion.  Follow us on Instagram and Facebook .  And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.

 

Jenn Fredette | Showing Kindness & Compassion When We Don’t Understand | K&C 8

In this episode Gordon talks with Jenn Fredette, LPC, MA, MDiv, about being vulnerable, being human and coping with people we just don’t agree with.  Jenn shares her experience of having come from a very conservative religious background (“cult”) and the ways in which she has grown and healed since then.  Jenn and Gordon also talk about how being present with and for people is an act of kindness and compassion.

Meet Jenn Fredette

Jenn Fredette, LPC, MA, MDiv

Jenn’s journey with others is to develop a deep understanding of themselves and the world around them.  She is passionate about connecting the curious and brave with therapeutic guides who can lead the way into the wild adventure of self-knowledge.

As a former minister, practicing psychotherapist, adjunct graduate professor, and host of “A Thinker’s Guide to…Podcast”, Jenn brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in translating the profound into everyday language. Learn more at therapyforthinkers.com or follow her on Instagram at @athinkersguide.

Growing Up With Limits

Jenn shares some of her experience in growing up in what she refers to as a religious cult.  She talks about how she was taught in very subtle ways how to think.  In particular, that the outside world was evil and that her community was the only conclave of “the good ones”.

Also in growing up, Jenn was taught that showing “kindness” was in convincing  others to see things the way that her community did. “If you will just come and agree with me, then your life will be better”.  In other words, converting them.  It was a viewpoint of getting people to think in a certain way without allowing them to have their own viewpoint.

Seeing Things From the Other’s Perspective

In many ways it is tough to be able to see things from another’s perspective, especially if we don’t agree with them.  Jenn shares some of her experience when she was working in community mental health and was a new counselor.  Her supervisor at the time said, “Jenn always treat people with kindness and compassion, and at the same time, don’t take anyone’s ‘shit’”.  In other words, it is important to set clear and healthy boundaries with people.

Jenn and Gordon reflect on the current war happening in Ukraine and how difficult it is to understand why Putin and Russia are doing what they are doing.  Jenn reminds us that even though we need to stand up to the abuse and bad behavior of others, we need to be mindful of the opposition’s humanity. We don’t need to demonize the other.

Our Internal Struggles

Jenn also calls into question some of her own internal struggle with how we show compassion for people that are much different from ourselves.  She is very honest about the fact that it is easy for her to show compassion for the refugees from Ukraine since they look so much like her.  And at the same time she struggles with the fact that when similar things were happening in Syria, a few years back, the level of compassion was not quite as intense. And this was because it was a different culture with different looking people.  She finds this internal struggle troubling. The important thing though is to simply acknowledge this internal struggle and continue to work on it.

Jenn brings up the metaphor of David and Goliath story and how we want to identify with the David of the story; the underdog.  But what is sometimes difficult is to recognize when we are actually in the role of Goliath.  When we are in fact the giant that is oppressing those that are less powerful, we need to be aware.  In order to live into kindness and compassion we need to be mindful of these times and situations.

Story of Kindness

Jenn shares a story that happened recently for her, when her husband got sick and had to go to the hospital. Jenn was stuck at home with their newborn baby and was feeling very much isolated and concerned.  Even though they had recently moved to a new home and new community, she found out that she did have some support.

A friend offered to come and stay with the baby while she went to the hospital.  And what was so kind for Jenn was the fact that the friend recognized Jenn’s nervousness about leaving her baby with a new person.  The friend called on the way to her house to find out what she needed to know about their baby, so that Jenn could leave for the hospital right away.  And even though this was a small thing, Jenn experienced it as incredibly kind.  Her friend anticipates what it might have been like for Jenn.

Getting Curious With Others

Ultimately, one of the best ways to show kindness and compassion with others is to simply get curious about how others see the world and what their lens of the world is like.  It is also important to try and anticipate the needs of others and respond based on those needs.

Being Present With People

Gordon tells the story of what it means to simply be present with people.  It was a story about a college professor who was visiting at the death of a friend and going to the funeral home.  The professor talked about simply sitting with the widow of the person who had died without really saying anything. Then when he left, he simply said, “When you need me you know where I am”.  The widow said that of all that was said during her husband’s funeral, that was the most helpful.

Again, simply being with and present with others is one of the best ways to show kindness and compassion.

Conclusion

Throughout the ups and downs of life we will all encounter people and situations that we find difficult to understand or agree with.  The key though to overcoming and dealing with these times is to do our best to put ourselves in the other’s shoes.  And at the same time, it is okay to set boundaries and limits to bad behavior; “not take any shit”.  We can still always show kindness do our best to be present with others.

Gordon (00:17):
Well, hello folks, and welcome again to the kindness and compassion podcast. And I'm so thrilled for you all to get to know Jen Fredette and Jen is somebody I've known for a little while now, and she connected with me through my other podcast, uh, the practice of therapy podcast, which is geared more towards clinicians, but welcome Jen.
Jenn (00:38):
Thanks Gordon. I'm so delighted to feedback sitting here with you.
Gordon (00:42):
Yes. And, and when I was said, when I was conceptualizing this, this podcast, the kindness and compassion podcast, Jen was exactly the kind of person I had in mind as having a guest, uh, for this podcast. Jen is, um, is a wonderful, wonderful storyteller. And, um, she has a podcast asked a thinker's guide too. That's the name of her podcast and I, I, I've probably benched to listen to it twice now, Jen.
Jenn (01:14):
Oh, good. Thank you.
Gordon (01:16):
So it's just, yeah, so it's just so, um, so vulnerable and just really, uh, I love what she did with that, but Jen is a star with everyone. Why don't you tell folks a little bit more about yourself and how you kinda landed where you've landed in life?
Jenn (01:32):
That's such a complicated question, Gordon. Um, so I think at least where I live now in the DC Metro area. So often we identify ourselves by what we do, like pre COVID. You can go to a party, people like, so what do you do? What do you do? What do you do? Um, and so I'm a psychotherapist and in some ways it's what I do, but in a lot of ways, it's who I am too, that I love having this job and this life that allows me to be very curious to ask the questions that are in polite in most settings, and to really try to get down deeper to what it means to be human. What does it mean to be alive? And, and what does it just mean to like, go about to this world that has gotten, I don't know if it's actually gotten more chaotic or we're just more conscious of how chaotic it is to be alive? Um, yeah, it's kind of a rambling question, but I think I got here cuz I'm curious.
Gordon (02:34):
Yeah. Yeah. That's uh, that's good. So yeah. Um, what, one of the things I know that Jen and I were talking about, um, uh, before we started recording and just, you know, know which I do with most folks is just think about, okay, what do we want to talk about on the podcast today? And Jen, you hit on just to think a topic that is so important for all of us is how, how do you show kindness and compassion to people that you just do not agree with? And so love to hear your thoughts on that.
Jenn (03:09):
Yeah. So, so interesting. You asked me this question, like where do I come from? It's like, oh, okay. Like, this is a good leadway to add to my answer are there. So I grew up very, very, very conservatively, um, in what I think really does meet the criteria for religious cult. As I often joke, maybe defend, like it wasn't a cool, sexy cult. Like there was no Kool-Aid there weren't like lots of, um, weird outfits to where, but it certainly was really focused on in subtle and non subtle ways, controlling what you thought about the world and really pictured the world as enemy and us as sort of like an enclave of like the good ones. And so when I think about, oh, what does it mean to, um, show kindness to others in a lot of ways growing up, what was modeled for me is you show kindness for those of you.
Jenn (04:09):
Listen, I'm like doing quotation marks. You show kindness by trying to convince people to think the way that you think that there's a sense, like if we would just agree and if you just come and realize that I'm right, therefore like that's a way for me to like, educate you, enlighten you and what I, I don't live in that very conservative mindset anymore. But what has been interesting to me as I've gone through life is that comes up again. And again, like there is a sense of I'm being, if I help you think just the way I'm thinking, as opposed to, Hey, let me share my viewpoint and we can disagree. And actually there can be something really lovely about that. And also perhaps you might find ways I might find ways to try to live in your shoes and I'll never feel it as deeply as maybe you do. And can I, can I try it out? I don't, it's kind of a rambling answer. Does that make sense?
Gordon (05:09):
Yeah, it does. And I think, um, you know, I know in other episodes of this podcast, we've talked about being able to take the time to be able to see, see things from another's perspective. And, and that's hard to do a lot of times, um, you know, we were talking about, um, you know, as we're recording this episode where in the throws of this war going on in the Ukraine and just thinking about Putin and how he's treating this and that sort of thing, it's very hard to see it the way he sees it. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. And so those are, those are tough, tough things that I think we have to, to deal with internally. And how do we treat that with kindness and compassion?
Jenn (06:02):
Yeah. Well, and it's good. And I don't know if we swear on this podcast, so I'll modify a little
Gordon (06:09):
Bit, you use, use, use whatever language is appropriate for you. Okay.
Jenn (06:14):
Um, so what I word community mental health. Um, I had an amazing supervisor Elise in one of my very first supervision. She said, Jen, here is the goal. You don't have to do this perfectly. You're still new. You're still learning. This is like the core thing I want you to focus on. I want you to treat everyone kindly, but take no one to shit. I was like, oh, OK. Like I don't like, how do I do that? And watching like this piece play out with Ukraine and the way Putin and his government, like, I don't know if it's all of the Russian people really, but how Putin's playing this out, that there is a sense of treating somebody with kindness, um, trying to step into where they might be coming from doesn't mean that you allow them, uh, in this case to commit war crimes against you, but to, to be abusive, to be malicious, to be violent, to be, um, inhumane.
Jenn (07:20):
Like that's not, I think what being kind, at least to me means being kind is perhaps reminding yourself of their humanity, even in the midst of all of this. And it can be very easy to demonize the other. Um, and the fact is Putin is a human, um, he's making decisions that are really hard for me to comprehend. And one of the things I was sharing with you before we started recording that, one of the things that I keep noticing within myself is my own visceral compassion, pain heartbreak, as I watch what is happening with the refugees from the Ukraine and something I've been asking myself a lot is like, okay, like, yes, of course this is an appropriate thing to have compassion and kindness for. And do I feel this way? Have I felt this way, watching the Syrian refugees look for a place to live, uh, what happens with Palestine and Israel, uh, with Palestine particularly, and how Israel is, um, often an aggressor, like, do I pay attention to this and show up with kindness and compassion when people don't look like me when I can't not necessarily have that same, um, instinctual, like, but those are my people.
Jenn (08:47):
Um, and that's also, what's hard about Putin a little bit is Putin also in some ways, looks like a lot of people, uh, who, who I can, I don't know that I can identify with, but, um, feel familiar when we talk about like American politics and sort of the elite. Yeah. Is that this is a very like geopolitical, but yeah.
Gordon (09:11):
Yeah. Well, I think it's a, it it's um,
Gordon (09:16):
Yeah, I think you're exactly right, is that, and, and I'm reminded of being, and as you, as you are learning, being a parent now, um, particularly as our kids grow up, there are times when you have to absolutely be firm inside a boundary and, and hold accountable, um, their actions. And as you said, not take any shit over over stuff. Um, but it can be done with kindness and compassion. Um, you know, um, and that's a, I think a hard, I think maybe a dichotomy, um, that is hard to maybe get our, our heads around sometimes.
Jenn (10:01):
Yeah. Yeah. It's hard because I think it's easier, at least for me, it's easier to go to the black and white of like, this is clearly the bad guy. These are clearly, um, the good guys and in a lot of cases, the David and Goliath, um, I think what I've been trying to pay attention to in myself is like, all right. Yeah. I'm rooting for the David in this story right now, but what about the times when I might more clearly identify with the Goliath and do I still find space in myself to root for the David and to, I mean, a lot of, I think what I'm talking about I think is, oh, like where's my own racism showing up. Yeah. Like where are those places that my unconscious biases sometimes conscious biases prevent me from really being able to feel into what the other is feeling. Yeah. And on top of that also, that is not always the healthiest thing to do to be consistently feeling and like having such a permeable, um, kind of take in other people's stuff. Like then where's that line too.
Gordon (11:15):
Right. Right. Yeah. And that's, uh, that, that's where the whole practice of mindfulness comes in and being able to be, um, learning how to self-regulate if you, if you will. So, so Jen with, I know that you're a very good storyteller and I'm gonna put you on the spot a little bit. Can you tell us a story of this and compassion?
Jenn (11:42):
Oh, you know, I can, um, I was telling you before we got on, um, that we've done a podcast before and I'm normally more prepared and try to plan for things and it just didn't get to do that in part, because the stomach flu has like raged through our household. Um, and so the baby got the stomach flu first, um, and was like shocked and like, didn't understand what was going on. And I had the experience of getting and vomited on and like, so it's not minding, like, it was not like, I, I don't necessarily wanna repeat it anytime soon. Uh, but that was just an interesting, like, oh, this is what parents mean when they're like, yeah. When it's your kid, it's just not as gross. So the baby got it. And we're like, okay, like, that's scary. We took her to the pediatrician.
Jenn (12:31):
Pediatrician was really like kind and, um, comforting. But two days later, my husband got very, very, very ill like ill enough that he ended up going to the hospital. Cause we weren't sure if it was a really bad case of food poisoning. And we live in an area where we don't have family nearby. We actually moved to our current house like six months before the, a pandemic. So we haven't like established a lot of like close, like neighborly connections. Um, cuz we've all been afraid of giving each other a deadly virus. And so my husband was in the hospital. I was so like, I don't know what I'm gonna do. I have this young child, who's not vaccinated, but I wanna go see him. But the hospital, probably not the place to be bringing a young child and potentially exposed to all of this stuff.
Jenn (13:20):
And I realized, I was like, oh, but we actually do kind of have the community. And so I was able to call on some of my husband's work colleagues. Some of my friends and people really showed up and like we was able to hand off the baby and, and just go to the hospital so I could sit and be with my husband. And so all of that, like maybe sounds like that's kindness and it certainly is. But the kindest thing that happened in the midst of all of that was our friend Trudy came over and she called me 15 minutes before she got to the house. She said, Jen, I know that you're probably gonna wanna leave right when I get there. So tell me what I need to know about the baby. Tell me what, like where all the things I want you to be able, just to leave as soon as I get there.
Jenn (14:13):
Wow. And her being able to hold to that in mind and to think, and actually put herself in my place. Not just that she was showing up and doing an extremely nice, like, um, like thing that I really needed and like meant a lot. But that call in the midst of it was like, oh, okay. Like, yeah, I really can just leave. This is, is putting herself in my shoes. Yeah. Um, and she arrived, she handed me a Le Croix. I handed her the baby. I was able to leave in just a few minutes and having that little bit of extra space was so meaningful.
Gordon (14:53):
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And that's, uh, yeah, that, and I think you, you hit on kind of a theme here that I think is, is worth it's worth worthwhile for us to kind of bullet point it or draw a circle around it or put a star next to it. And that is the importance of being able to think about others through the lens that they might see the world, you know, the words being able to just be able to, okay. I wonder how they see things or just getting curious, uh, um, with folks is, um, I think I, one of the, one of the best ways to show kindness and compassion, I mean yeah. As you, as you experienced, I mean, she really had thought about, okay, what's it like for Jen and what does she, what would she need at this point? Yeah. Yeah.
Jenn (15:51):
And like tried it out and I might have been like, no, it's fine. Like when you come, like I'll go over it. And I think that would've been fine for her. Um, but it, I think that's where sometimes people get tripped up, especially like in moments of crisis. Like people want to show up and do the thing, but they don't NEC like, what do you do? Like, what do you say? Um, I hear this a lot. Actually, when I sit with clients who have someone in their life, who's going through some sort of loss, a job loss, the loss of somebody close to them, who's actively dying. Things like that. Like, well, what am I supposed to do? It's like, well, there's probably some concrete things you can do, but let's think about what you imagine the other person might need. And are there ways for you to meet some of that need?
Jenn (16:39):
And sometimes where people go is like, well, they need for their husband not to be dying or they need to have a brand new job or they need to have like the solution. And that's often actually not what I think people need, people need somebody who can show up and, and really see what's happening and be present like that. I think almost always matters at least on an individual level. And when you have that community, who's gonna show up and see where you are and be present some of those other bigger piece of like, how do you find a new job? Or how do you grieve the loss of somebody you deeply love like that unfolds over time.
Gordon (17:22):
Yes. Um, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I love that. I'm reminded of, uh, uh, a story that I heard when I was an undergraduate at Mars hill. Um, and I had a psychology, uh, professor that also happened to be a clergy person. Um, he was, uh, he was a Baptist minister, but he had a, his PhD in psychology and he told, and I was taking a, a, an introduction to counseling course. Hmm. Uh, as an undergraduate. And I remember a story that he told about that, um, about having a, a parishioner or church member who had had a husband to die. And it was, it was a, it was an unexpected death. And he was talking about going to the funeral home to visit with the family and getting to the funeral home and everybody saying all the usual stuff. And he just went over and he said, I just sat down next to the widow.
Gordon (18:23):
And I just put my arm around her and just sat there with her, didn't say anything. And then, and just got up when it was time for me to leave. And I just said, you know, where I am when you, when you need me, you know, where I am and then left. And he, he came back later and said, you know, she mentioned to him that, of all the things that people said and did during that moment, that was the one that meant the most to her. He was just simply present with her and, and didn't necessarily try to fix anything or try to tell, say the exact right words or any of that sort of thing, but just be present. Yeah. You know? Yeah.
Jenn (19:03):
That's hard. I think we often feel better when we can do. And, and I, I think that is a component. Like it's not just always presence, but I think most people tend to, um, fall more heavily on like, let me do all of the things for you, as opposed to let me slow down. I'll just come and sit. And also what's beautiful in that story is like, he sat with her for a time. But when it was time to give space, he was like, I'm here. Like when you need me, like, I'm here for you. Yeah. There was a, almost like a continuing presence even when he left.
Gordon (19:47):
Right. Right. Yeah. Yeah. So I know we've got probably tons of stories we could tell. And, uh, I really, um, folks that, that are listening really encourage you to go over and, and listen to Jen's podcast. I was telling her before we started, um, I, I've probably B listened to it at least twice. Now, just as you can tell, just listening to Jen, she's just a very calming soul. And so Jen, I tell folks how they can get in touch with you and if they wanna somehow or another connect.
Jenn (20:22):
Yeah. So if you're interested in the podcast, I'd suggest you go over to my private practice website therapy for thinkers. You can tell, I get out there. I think it's linked there and it's on like apple podcasts and all of that. Um, you can also check me out on Instagram. Um, most of my Instagram is focusing on helping psychotherapists market, their practice with depth, with compassion. Um, so some of you might be interested in that some of you may not be. Yeah. Um, but my handle is outta thinker guide, um, on Instagram.
Gordon (20:56):
Yes. Yes. She's got some great stuff. So, well, Jen, uh, ho hopefully we'll have you back on this podcast and, and, uh, uh, I in, she's a great person to get to know. So thanks Jen for being here.
Jenn (21:10):
Thanks for having me.

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About

L. Gordon Brewer Jr., LMFT |Podcast Host – Gordon has spent his career in helping professions as a licensed therapist, counselor, trainer, and clergy person.  He has worked with 100’s of people in teaching them the how to better manage their emotions through self-care and the practices of kindness and compassion.  Follow us on Instagram and Facebook .  And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.

 

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