Empathy is Feeling WITH People

The older I get, the more I value the time I have. I am genuinely interested in slowing down enough to be present in every moment. Especially since I have had kids, I find that I want to preserve the little moments, as it seems to go by so fast.

This year has been so hard - full of loss and loneliness. Multiple times I have found myself in a virtual space (or in real life, very rarely) and on the other side of strong emotions. And although I practice being super present for these times, it can still be super uncomfortable and awkward.

Yet, these are the times that build connection and deepens trust. It requires us to be there and to be with the other person. This is empathy. “Empathy is feeling WITH people.” - Brené Brown

I have noticed that humans need to insert themselves into other people’s feelings. Have you ever opened yourself up to someone, sharing your vulnerability and then they share “I know, that happened to me when…” and the focus has moved to the other person and you are now comforting them?

Sometimes the most powerful (and most needed) thing you can do is just sit there and listen. Or say, “That really sucks!” The more I find I can sit and be with other people’s discomfort, the more I give permission for them to open up. Which we need desperately.

If you are reading this, and you’re identifying with not feeling heard or seen when you share parts of yourself, then I would recommend that you take some time to find (or further invest!) in the people that you can fully be yourself with. If you are reading this and thinking that you are the person that inserts yourself in other people’s feelings, then I would recommend that you reflect on what it is that makes you so uncomfortable when you are with hard feelings. Then practice leaning into the discomfort and being there for others. Just practicing uncomfortable silences will take you pretty far.

Remember, “People will forget what you said, people forget what you did what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou