Empathy

 

So many wrote to say how much you enjoyed Brene´Brown that I decided to do a follow-up.  

I received a phone call today at the FamilyLife office -  another SOS. One of our volunteers has a friend whose son was killed 2 months ago in a car crash. She wants to know what she can do to make the Mum feel better. Oh ... my heart went right out to her friend! Gosh, in that situation nothing can make you feel better.  When our world comes crashing down like that we don’t want to feel better, we just want our life to return to normal; to the way that it was. It can take some of us a while to realise that that can never happen.  We need someone to walk the journey with us. We want someone who can identify with our pain and help us carry the burden. We want some empathy.

 
As I said, I mentioned Brene´Brown in my last update – she really is a superstar. Take a look at this little video on the difference between empathy and sympathy.

Brene´ Brown on empathy

 I love her line "rarely does an empathic response begin with 'at least'". The desire in us to make another person feel better often drives us to use the words “at least”. I had it happen to me when Natasha died. “At least you had her for 16 years”  or, “at least she died doing something she enjoyed”, or “at least her life left a meaningful impact”. Words of truth from some well-meaning people who really wanted to help, but didn't quite know how to.   

I admit that in the past I’ve used those words too: "At least ...".  I’ve since learnt that it’s only the person carrying the burden who has the right to use the words, “at least”. 
Brene´’s last line is powerful 
“rarely can a response make something better; what makes something better is connection”.

And that’s my hope. That when someone is hurting, I must resist the urge to try and make it better.  Instead, I can just truly listen from their perspective and try to connect to their pain. I can't make it better, or the person better, but they may feel felt! And hopefully they won't feel alone in their pain.

Nikki

Jump in Puddles

 
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