befried inner monsterIf someone shares something with you that is incredibly painful and you try to lighten the moment, that may be a lack of empathy. Empathy is about understanding where someone is coming from and caring about them, it says nothing about trying to make someone feel better. The following is a good descriptive cartoon that illuminates the difference between sympathy and empathy from a talk with Brene Brown, author of Daring Greatly.

 Are there places in your life where someone’s discomfort leaves you feeling uncertain of what to say? Or maybe their pain is simply making you uncomfortable?

Our brain’s are wired to get away from pain and one way we do that in a relationship is try to lighten the moment.

One person says, “My son is failing in school.” They have clear pain, your mirror neurons pick this up and so you feel pain. Your brain jumps into action and says, “If you take her pain away then you’ll feel better.” So you say, “At least your daughter is doing well.”

This completely misses the mark as you might have seen in the video.

The person is in pain, they just need someone to acknowledge that and care about them. After that you might say, “Is there any way I can support you with this?”

How we deal with our own pain and how we deal with relational pain are very similar. What we need is to feel cared about and understood and so do other people when they’re in pain. Ultimately, this gives us a sense of feeling accepted, a sense of belonging.

Security is the kindling for feeling content, calm and happy.  

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

PS – Special thanks to Mollycules for her great illustrations.

 


Comments


View Comments / Leave a Comment

This post currently has 1 comments.
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.






    Last reviewed: 11 Aug 2014

APA Reference
Goldstein, E. (2014). The Power of Empathy (and One Surefire to Know if You’re Missing It). Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindfulness/2014/08/the-power-of-empathy-and-one-surefire-to-know-if-youre-missing-it/

 

Mindfulness & Psychotherapy



Subscribe to this Blog:
Feed


Or Get a Single, Daily Email (enter email address):

via FeedBurner



Archives



Books and CDs by Dr. Elisha Goldstein:
Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler: Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind
The Now Effect: How This Moment Can Change The Rest of Your Life

A Mindfulness-Based
Stress Reduction Workbook Mindful Solutions for Stress, Anxiety and Depression
 

Subscribe to this Blog:
Feed


Or Get a Single, Daily Email (enter email address):

via FeedBurner



Recent Comments
  • zapf: I tend to agree w Kat and Rosacanina Doctor Goldstein. My livelong depressions and manic states since age 17...
  • Julian Illman: Interesting article. Thanks for the KNOW mnemonic . It will be a useful reminder when faced with our...
  • HeidiHO: 7 years ago, after trying to kill myself in a blackout, I quit drinking and life began to take on a flavor...
  • SANY001: I truly enjoy and am inspired by your daily blog. Thank you.
  • penny: That was Brilliant. If one did not have good role models growing up you don’t learn good EQ. And this...
Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code



Users Online: 12240
Join Us Now!