Available for Interviews: Dr. Colleen Cira, Psy.D.
Dr. Colleen Cira, Psy.D., is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who specializes in Women and Trauma, and has worked with hundreds of people struggling with mental health issues.
People often struggle with compassion—not only for others, but also for ourselves. Here’s a few things we can try to build more kindness and empathy into our lives and the lives of the people who surround us:
1) Just listen. Don’t interrupt with advice, with silver linings, or with solutions. Just listen. Truly listen. Don’t think about what you’re going to say next or how they’re doing it wrong, or what they could be doing differently. Just listen and take in what they’re saying to you.
2) Ask questions. When you’re actually listening, instead of just planning what you’re going to say next, you’ll figure out there’s a lot you don’t know, so ask a question about it! Get curious about their experience, how they interpreted something, how it made them feel, or what they need.
3) Do a mind-shift. Don’t treat them how YOU would like to be treated, treat them how THEY would like to be treated. Treating others the way we want to be treated is a good start! I would imagine that comes with respect, kindness, and understanding. But make it a point to figure out what they need rather than what you assume they need—and then do that.
4) Don’t judge. It’s easy to do. Our brains like to put things in easy-to-identify boxes, and we like to assume that there’s a right way or that we know better feels good to us. It’s clean, clear-cut, and you get to be the smart one. . . . But it’s a trap! Because judging others makes them feel bad and ultimately doesn’t make you any smarter or better. In fact, it makes everyone feel LESS connected to each other. Ultimately, the crux of compassion is connection. So, instead of separating yourself from their pain by judging or blaming them, instead, connect with them. Connect with their pain. Think about a time in your life when you felt the same way. The situation doesn’t have to be the same—only the reaction/emotions need be common—and then, just like that, judging won’t make any sense at all. It’s then that compassion will come easy.
Interview: Dr. Colleen Cira, Psy.D.
Dr. Colleen Cira received both her Masters and Doctorate from The Illinois School of Professional Psychology and is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the State of Illinois. She’s the Founder and Executive Director of Cira Center for Behavioral Health, PC, a boutique group practice specializing in Women and Trauma with locations in Chicago and Oak Park.
She was named one of the “Top 100 Women in Chicago Making a Difference,” by Today’s Chicago Woman. Dr. Cira is a trauma and anxiety expert, clinical supervisor, writer, speaker, consultant, activist, wife, and Mommy to two little ones.
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