Relationships are tough. It was that way since the beginning of time, and the same is still true now.
One of the reasons is that we are all different.
When we hear someone telling us something difficult they are going through, we usually think, "Well, I would do this, and things would be fine," but we aren't the other person.
It happens alot with disagreements, too. We think to ourselves, "I would never do that to someone else." True, you wouldn't but they might.
Empathy is moving our "self" filter that we see life through aside, and trying to understand where the other person may be coming from.
I admit, I am the worst person when it comes to putting my emotional response on hold, and trying to understand where the other person is coming from. Did I grow up with them? Did I have their parents? Their family? Did they have any issues along the way that may effect the way they deal with difficulties?
My wife got exasperated with my Male, "fix the problem" response to her issue, and told me to, "Just listen". I'm better than I used to, but I still react in my Male DNA way. However, empathy is more than listening - it is taking a step or two to understand where someone is coming from.
Do you have a friend/family/co-worker that seems to be constantly involved in the same issue or situation. It seems like they are on a racetrack life path that takes them around and around through the same situation. To me, you have two ways to deal with it;
1. Avoid them, or
2. Do the harder thing (Which, in my opinion is always the best), and empathize with them and their issue.
You can't change anyone, but I think if you empathize, that builds trust, and you could possibly have the opportunity to offer some steps to correct the looping path away from the issue. I'm not a professional counselor (I'm think you might not be either), but caring for someone and their issue can open up your heart and mind to offer caring advice from time to time. Love and empathy can help you help others.
All this is hard. Life itself is hard, but sometimes the hardest lessons are the most rewarding.
Practice empathy. Do your best to set aside the instant platitude, listen and be empathetic.
The world is full of people going through difficult times, and if you take some times to start to practice empathy, you could have the opportunity to release the pain of one person, and that could have a positive ripple effect.
I'll leave you with this. This has happened to me. Sometimes the people that you help with empathy, can turn around and help you in a future time. We are not on this planet to be on our own, we need each other.
Have a great week. Another little distraction coming next Monday. Tell a friend. :)
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