What is Empathy?

I was recently talking to a new acquaintance. But as I was talking about what I do, she was throwing out “yeah, but” bombs.

“Yeah, but you don’t have kids.”

“Yeah, but you don’t work for a terrible boss.”

“Yeah, but you don’t have meetings to go to every evening.”

“Yeah, but you don’t know what it’s like to be me.”

Have you ever had a conversation with someone tossing “yeah, but” bombs. I call them bombs because they blow up any chance for connection. It’s like playing Go Fish with a deck of 52 different cards. There’s just no match.

Because she was absolutely correct. I have no idea what it’s like to be her. I have no idea what it’s like to be anyone. And no one knows what it’s like to be me.

It sounds so lonely doesn’t it? How can we connect? How can we understand what another person is going through? How can someone understand what we are going through?

Technically, we can’t.

But here’s where we can connect.

On the emotional undercurrents.

I don’t know what you’ve been through, but I know pain. I’ve experienced it before.

I don’t know what you all have on your plate, but I understand overwhelm. I’ve been there.

I don’t know what all your buttons are, but I have a bunch too and I’ve been so angry that I’ve forgotten who I am.

I don’t know every detail of your life, but I have felt judged, ashamed, scared, hurt, betrayed, rejected, and lost.

And there’s the point of connection. I may not know you, but I feel you.

Have you ever felt disconnected from someone, because you have no idea what they’re going through? Have you ever wanted to reach through someone’s unique situation to connect with them? Have you ever felt so lost in your situation that you were convinced that no one could ever relate to you?

That’s getting lost in the details. Getting lost in the drama. That’s the fluff.

Instead, cut through to the emotional undercurrents, to the root of the problem and connect there. It’s in the emotional undercurrents that you are not alone.

That’s what empathy is. Feeling with someone.

How can you connect with someone using empathy?

Who needs some of your empathy this week?

Where are you looking for some empathy from others?

Here's to conquering stress,

The Stress Experts

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