This month on the podcast we will be talking about the concept of empathy: understanding it, knowing how to express it, and what makes it difficult. It’s one of those things we all nod our collective heads to as important – yet many of us are too embarrassed to admit we struggle to show it. I mean, who wants to admit you lack heart? Or compassion?
But I don’t think we lack caring. I believe that most of us – those who are not psychopaths – feel deep compassion and empathy for others yet we simply don’t express it. There are different reasons for this, and you might identify with one or two. That’s because so many of us who also care deeply, have anxiety around being that vulnerable. We are uncomfortable because we can’t make it go away, we can’t undo it, and we can’t fix it. So we just say “my condolences” or “so sorry” and leave it at that.
Ironically when we are expressing some anger/sadness/fear/joy, we yearn to be listened to. Really listened to. To have light shown upon our deepest hurt and our most important joy. To have our reality reflected back so WE can figure out what we want to do with it. To trust what we think, feel and need…and thus to feel confident. To feel connected and not alone. So, it’s amazing how we know how important it is to be heard, and yet we struggle to listen.
I think that is because empathy is taught in families – or not. If you grew up around people who normalized talking “at” each other and not “with”. Lots of interaction but less connection, because connecting requires vulnerability. It means expressing and reflecting back feelings. To resonate with each other’s humanity. It’s what we all want, and yet it’s often what we struggle to do. It’s also what the world needs the most of right about now.