Out on a Limb
A Monthly Newsletter from Martha Clark Scala
Invest in bringing joy back to your life.
September 2010
Welcome to Out on a Limb, a monthly newsletter from Martha Clark Scala. This free e-zine is meant to invite and inspire you to maximize the joy in your life.

MFTs, LCSWs and RNs:
Save $15! The Early Bird deadline for upcoming workshop is 9/15/10!

A Very Full Plate: Nourishing Your Self While Treating Grief & Loss is on Friday, October 15, 2010, in Palo Alto, CA. This workshop will help you manage your full plate. Save $15 if you register by September 15th! For more info, click here!

Empathy Failure in Grief

It’s bad enough when we lose someone, isn’t it? It is worse when other relationships sour in the aftermath of that loss. This seems to happen more often than not. Parents break up while they grieve the premature death of their young or adult child. Siblings don’t see eye-to-eye when a parent dies. Friends do not understand why another friend isolates herself after an unhappy breakup, and judge her accordingly. Relationships reach an impasse or a breaking point over issues that might seem silly or unimportant to an outsider. Yikes! Why does this peculiar form of collateral damage happen? Reasons and explanations abound but consider this insidious contributing factor:

Think about what it takes to get along with people who are wired differently, in the best of times. For example, if you are an extrovert, you probably re-charge your battery by being around people. That gives you energy. If you are trying to process something that upsets you, a conversation with a trusted person may be what you need to help you get clarity, make decisions, or figure things out.

If you share a work cubicle with an introvert, you may feel thwarted at times. The introvert generates energy by being alone, or will participate less often in quiet, one-on-one exchanges. Decision-making is accomplished by going inward, first, and your introverted colleague may never feel inclined to consult with you about something personal. The two of you may never get along as co-workers or friends but for this example, assume that you do.

Some kind of détente allows each of you to accept or tolerate the other’s differences. Détente requires empathy: the ability to step inside someone else’s shoes and see life from a different perspective. You might be the prince or princess of empathy in the best of times but if we now add a big fat layer of grief to the mix, your capacity for empathy is bound to be compromised. You might be appalled by your introverted workmate’s reluctance to discuss how you are feeling. It’s a recipe for disharmony, unrest, and misunderstanding. If your workmate happens to be grieving a loss, too, the likelihood of strife or dissension just multiplies because two people are “off,” not just one.

Forgive Yourself

If you are finding it hard to empathize with others close to you while you are in the throes of grief, forgive yourself! It is entirely normal to not be capable, while mourning, to bring your best self forward. Forgive yourself. If you can recognize that you need an attitude adjustment, it will do you no good to judge yourself excessively.


Allow …

It is a tall order to ask that you try to forgive others. The pull to expect that others “do” grief the way you do it is strong, but it just sets up a tug-of-war about who is doing what (or not), and opinions flare over which way is right. There is no right way. You might get back to joy a little sooner if you just allow for individual differences.

Your September 2010 Prompts for Joy

Click here for a plea to Be Kind. (sorry for the ad at beginning of video)

Click here for a fabulous rendition of “No Regrets.” (Singing begins at 1:40 mark, but it’s all good)

I found out about these clips from Cheryl Richardson, a talented coach and writer.

Joy-Gram for September 2010

Just ponder these two quotes:

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
                                                                    ~Lewis B. Smedes

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.
                                                                     ~Paul Boese

Pictured Above

Some people really do like to “fly solo” while they are grieving. May this photograph, taken in Twain Harte, California, help you conjure empathy, either for yourself or others. Photograph by Bill Scala.


Archives Now Available

To re-read or share past Out On A Limb newsletters, click here, or type the following url into your browser: http://www.mcscala.com/html/EZineArchives.html.

By no means do I have joy “figured out.” Please do not assume that I do! I write Out On a Limb as much as a meditation for myself in the ongoing pursuit of joy, as for you. I think this pursuit is a lifelong journey and that the full experience of joy is, at best, episodic. May we all have more episodes!


Martha Clark Scala, MFT • 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303 •

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