“Emotional Charity” – We can all afford to give

Recently, I’ve been thinking about how often we are called to act with more kindness and sensitivity towards others when we don’t really feel like it. Yet, the moment we become aware that we can respond to any situation in a more positive way, is the moment we can’t turn our back on trying to be kinder, gentler people. With ourselves and each other. I say trying because it can be difficult wanting to be nice sometimes.

We can change the way we treat others

While it’s vitally important we treat ourselves with kindness and gentleness to heal, this post is more about how we can change the way we treat others to alleviate any tension we all face in our relationships. In normal times when we are regularly challenged to juggle our competing emotions with others, the pandemic has ramped them up. Nearly every other news article is about how the pandemic is affecting us. Millions of people are facing a variety of challenging situations.

There’s been a noticeable increase in mental health issues, divorce, people struggling with isolation, loss, illness and a host of other problems. It’s a whole other level to manage our emotions in more trying times. People are frustrated. Situations are unpredictable. For many life feels scary. We all deserve to feel supported by each other and in particular, by the people who surround us. Which is where emotional charity comes in.

Photo by Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

What is emotional charity?

Emotional charity is when we decide to be kinder, gentler people with others. Which isn’t a whole lot different than being able to feel compassion for what anyone is going through. Demonstrating emotional charity happens when we are willing to be the first to forgive. When we can accept where others are in their life and we don’t expect anything from them. Which helps us become more compassionate human beings.

While we can choose to be emotionally charitable just by deciding to be nice, the truth is that being nice is a challenge for many people. As a long-term sufferer, I can easily feel the suffering of others. At the same time, I know how difficult it can be to want to be nice to others. Especially, our nearest and dearest.

Behind every act of meanness is someone in pain

Behind every act of meanness is someone in pain. While it’s tempting to run from conflict rather than face it head on, responding to someone in pain with gentleness and kindness is more helpful. We can end all conflict in our relationships by understanding there’s always a deeper reason for anyone’s outburst, silence or misery.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Compassion is a powerful emotion for healing

While our brains haven’t developed to allow us to always feel compassion for others, when we can feel it and are on the receiving end of someone else’s care, we can start to heal. In fact, compassion is one of the most powerful emotions for healing

Anything we experience as trauma has a profound impact on our body, nervous system and brain. Physical sensations include a racing heart, rapid breathing, body rigidity. Emotionally, we can’t connect with others. We feel isolated, angry and sometimes rage. Compassion helps to ease these symptoms. (To read more about compassion related to trauma and PTSD click here.)

Understanding another person’s situation is effective

Research has shown that subjectively understanding another person’s situation is highly effective for our healing. For any one of us, deciding to be more emotionally charitable is essential to helping each other get through the trying times.

Photo by “My Life Through A Lens” on Unsplash


We don’t have to be severely traumatized or suffering to benefit from the compassion of others. Being more understanding of anyone’s situation is a significant part in all of us contributing to the creation of a more inclusive, tolerant, caring society.


To be more emotionally charitable:

  1. Use a gentle tone of voice when responding to someone acting out.
  2. Ask your loved one how they are REALLY feeling (like you mean it and have the time to listen).
  3. Offer your loved one specific support rather than tell them to call you if they need anything.

We still have a long way to go to get more comfortable airing our mental and emotional discomforts without feeling any stigma. However, if there is something positive about the pandemic, it’s that it is allowing us to express these and some of our other vulnerabilities more frequently and in an open, inclusive way. Which is a great thing to help bring about the longer-term changes that we all need.

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Need vs. REAL Need – How to tell the Difference

Last post, I wrote about how to break the habit of telling ourselves we “have to” or “should do” this or that. Thinking we need to do whatever we are telling ourselves is often an automatic reaction to believing we must meet a specific need. Urgently! But thinking and acting this way only puts excessive pressure on ourselves that keeps us in a state of frenzy. A cycle that can be hard to break free of.

There’s a difference between knowing real need from those needs we pressure ourselves into thinking must be met, right now! These latter often are tasks we may conclude aren’t so important when we stop to think about our priorities.

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The peril of telling yourself I “have to” or “should” – how to break the cycle

How often do you catch yourself saying I “have to” or “I should do” this or that? You may not even be aware of how much you repeat this to yourself each day. Yet, telling yourself “I have to” or “I should” can be perilous to your mental and physical health.

When we have an opportunity to fill our spare time (yes, I can hear you laughing), the decisions we make based on what we are telling ourselves, may not be in our best interest. This is particularly true when we are recovering from loss. Living with a disability. Or, when we are trying valiantly to meet our own high standards or the expectations of others. The stress can be enormous!

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TEN TIPS: HOW TO TALK TO THE BEREAVED

I’ve been dealing for years with this issue of people not knowing how to talk to me once they find out I’m a bereaved mom. Given it’s been over fifteen years now, it’s getting a bit monotonous. And I know I’m not alone in feeling this way. There are plenty of other bereaved parents who struggle with the same reactions I get once people find out I’ve lost a child. In fact, I’m certain many bereaved people routinely experience the discomfort of those with whom they have shared their loss, no matter who has died. People in general, just don’t know how to talk to the bereaved.

While it’s rare for me to talk about my daughter with just anyone, it isn’t because I don’t want to. It’s because I learned early in my bereavement that I had to take extreme care in choosing who to share my loss with simply because of the overwhelmingly reactions I got when people found out I’d lost a child. (Usually this was in response to them asking me how many children I had). All of them wanted to know how she had died, which only made their discomfort even worse because it was a suicide.

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THE POWER OF RELIEF

When I first became bereaved in 2005, after the suicide of my daughter, I felt confused and distrustful of everything. My entire world had fallen apart. I had no idea how I would ever live without my child and was terrified something else really bad would happen to my family. I couldn’t imagine what I could ever do again that would feel worthwhile. I felt isolated and different from everyone else and in pain so extreme, I didn’t think I could survive it. I felt powerless. There was no relief in sight.

But I did survive. More importantly, I’m starting to truly live again through a healing process I can’t wait to share with others.

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New Year, New Mindset – Hold Up!

Though I wish everyone reading this the absolute best for this new year, I’m not going to start this post off by saying how glad I am to say goodbye to 2020. In fact, and with the greatest respect and compassion for all those who have suffered hardship during 2020, I am grateful not to have been impacted negatively by the Pandemic. Nor was any of my family. We were spared.

Whew! I do not want to endure any further hardship in my life. In fact, I am so happy to say I am finally doing a darn good job turning things around in my life when it comes to healing and embracing positive change.

However, for those newly bereaved who have suffered loss of a loved one, economic hardship, unwanted lifestyle changes, a relationship breakup, family separation, or their hopes and dreams, all because of something way beyond their control, it’s a new year. You can have a new life by developing a new mind set. Change your thoughts. Change your life and all that. Or can you?

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Hope for the Holidays!

Like most people around the world who are celebrating a major holiday this month (for me it’s Christmas), we all could use a little hope. Nothing is the same for any of us this year. Maybe it won’t be ever again, as cliché as this sounds. Millions of people have been affected by the pandemic and reeling from the various losses and struggles they are experiencing as a direct result of it. It’s easy to lose hope and see only the bad in everything when we are hurting and afraid.

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THE GAME-CHANGER – 988 SUICIDE HOTLINE!

Now, I realize that suicide is not a topic most people openly want to talk about. But sometimes we have to. I guarantee that everyone knows someone who has died by suicide, if they haven’t experienced it in their own family or close circle. Suicide is a global crisis that every country admits to, but doesn’t know how to solve.

As a mom of a daughter who died by suicide in 2005, I was thrilled to recently learn that a 9-8-8 national suicide hotline number has been proposed for Canada. I remain hopeful the motion makes it before Parliament for a vote within weeks, and that it is approved and turned into law within the next two years. I agree with mental health professionals and advocates that the hotline will be a game-changer for Canada. It will transform the way we think and talk about suicide and improve support for those at risk who call in. I am certain it will save lives. People just have to call!

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The Power of “Will”

Will, when used to express our desire, freedom to choose and willingness is a gift. In grief, or when trying to overcome any adversity, it gives us a more positive outlook on life. On our relationships. On our potential and possibilities.

Having the will to take action is related to our being eager and ready for whatever we want to come our way. To change what we are no longer satisfied with in life. To feel alive and create new dreams when we’ve lost former ones or had none at all. To seize opportunities.

Possessing will is also associated with our needing to feel some amount of cheerfulness. Which may be the reason people struggle to have or maintain the will to push through their difficulties and latch on to something more than just their pain.

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The Ultimate Sacrifice?

Wow, so I just read that the Netherlands is set to approve euthanasia for children under twelve years old. Again, just wow on so many levels. The first being that this is perhaps some of the most liberal thinking in the world on euthanasia next to that of Belgium, which became the first country to allow voluntary child euthanasia in 2014. Since then, they have reported two deaths of children in this age range.

Wow, because for a parent to have to consider never mind be willing to let their child go this way is perhaps the ultimate sacrifice any parent may ever have to make. And unless you’re in that situation, it’s hard to say what anyone would be prepared to do.

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