When someone is in emotional pain, empathy is sometimes the only solution.
Have you ever tried to get your point across when the other person is hurting, and they can’t hear you? You feel increasingly frustrated and irritated. This is especially true when you are angry about their behaviour and you believe you are the one who needs empathy rather than the other person! In this situation both you and the other person are needing empathy at the same time.
Even if you are not angry and simply trying to point out that the other person is taking things personally, they’re being too serious or they just need to see things differently, you are wasting your time, if the other person is in pain. They are criticising themselves and so they are not open in that moment to have their errors pointed out. When they are being unreasonable and judgemental towards themselves, they can’t hear you. In this situation you need to give empathy and it’s easier for you to do this when you are not emotionally caught up in the relationship.
Over the last month I was involved in two situations where empathy was really helpful. In the first situation I was not involved in the emotional turmoil and so it was easy to see what was needed from a neutral place.
In the second situation I was angry and wanting to be heard and understood but the other person had taken my comments personally. They couldn’t hear my point of view or bring themselves to an apology because they were hurting so much inside. We both needed empathy and it took me until the next day to be able to hear the other person’s pain. It was only after they experienced empathy that a connection naturally happened that allowed love to return to our relationship.
What is the “magical” empathy are you going to give?
“Poor you” or “I know how you feel” will not be enough!
The best way I have found over the last 21 years to give empathy is the way described by Non-violent Communication ( https://www.cnvc.org/ ).The focus is to connect a person’s feelings to a need they are having in that moment and then keep repeating that process until something shifts. Obviously, empathy is more than simply a process or a sequence of questions, it requires a deep connection. Some questions that connect feelings to needs are:
Are you in so much pain that you just want your feelings heard and understood?
Are you sad because you don’t feel respected?
Are you angry because you think the situation is unjust and you need consideration for your point of view?
Are you frustrated because you want who you are to be recognized and accepted?
It is a gift to totally accept another’s pain without judgement.
They know deep down that they are judging themselves, so they don’t want to be labelled wrong by someone else.
They want their experience to be recognised even though it is a result of self-attack.
They don’t want a lesson in communication.
They are not ready to have it pointed out that they are choosing fear and not love.
They need empathy.
By James Kelly, creator of the Miracle Choice Game
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