If you’re a guy reading this, there is one thing I would want you to be clear about if you are not familiar with your emotional world: being uncomfortable with being emotionally vulnerable will severely limit your ability to show empathy to the person you love.
Empathy is that one crucial piece of a two-way conversation with someone where we put our own opinion off to the side for one minute while we try to imagine what the other person might be FEELING in that moment. The reason this is so important is because it is exactly the same thing that we need in return from that other person.
Having or showing empathy does NOT mean that we agree with the other person’s opinion. It means that we seek to find value in their different opinion based on the fact that we appreciate who this person is in our life.
More than likely we do not have this other person in our life because we need to agree on everything, right?
We love this person despite the differences that exist between any two people on the planet, right?
When you put your own opinion off to the side for a minute to listen to this other person’s Truth, you get the opportunity to understand him or her at a deeper level. You may not want to hear what they have to say because you disagree. But the good news is that you get to ask them to do the same thing for you!
The best way to get empathy… is to give it first!
Ideally, we all would be able to predict that the other person could be empathetic with us first. Chances are pretty high, however, that that won’t be what happens. When we are emotionally reacting to what the other person is saying – usually because we have a different opinion on whatever subject is being talked about – there is no way we are capable of hearing or appreciating what is coming out of their mouths. Of course, this is exactly what that other person is experiencing about us at the very same moment!
If we are not empathetic, the quality of our emotional connection with this other person will either stagnate or deteriorate. This is an important moment for us to make a choice about what is more important: a) being right, or b) your relationship with this person.
It is all a matter of RESPECT. If you consider yourself a respectful person, then allowing a different perspective from someone else – while it may be challenging to hear – is what keeps a relationship healthy and mature. If you are highly defensive and have a tough time when people disagree with you, then you probably gotta check out how judgmental of a person you are. Yes, as human beings we all have judgments. But delivering a judgment to another person as a way to justify your own side of an argument is DISRESPECTFUL…no matter which way that judgment goes!
If you are not very familiar with your own fear, pain, anger, sadness, or shame you will have a low tolerance of others who are in the middle of feeling those feelings. You will also have a BLINDSPOT in your empathy radar.
Figuring out the feelings in your own True Heart will help give you clarity of what lives in the True Heart of others…which will in turn make them interested in yours.