The last post for our series on “Resilient Love: How to Survive a Broken Heart” is “Empathy: The Bridge to Connection”.
To reflect, validate and respond with empathy to the “other” mirrors the connection we seek and yearn for. Being seen and fully heard requires presence and artful listening.
Empathy for Others Begins with Self Compassion
Empathy requires self-compassion as the starting point. To express empathy takes practice! It is important to be patient with ourselves as we reach out and grow. Recognizing our own anxiety, fears, trigger responses and powerlessness that can come up as a response may also require that we: Stop….Breathe….Observe….Choose and Practice the warmth and kindness we desire to give as support. Even when we miss the mark, we can circle around and reach out again.
What are effective ways of expressing empathy? Brene’ Brown shares in The Gifts of Imperfection that empathy conveys a simple acknowledgment, “You’re not alone, I’ve been there.” Empathy is connection; it’s a ladder out of the shame hole.”
Theresa Wiseman describes these four attributes of empathy:
- Perspective taking
- Staying out of judgment
- Recognize emotion in the other
- Communicate that emotion
- Presence and Mindfulness ( I am here with you; I am here for you) Added to the list!
Ross Greene, in his collaborative problem solving approach with children identifies an approach we can all take with one another- Often the most important question we can ask is “How can I help?” Even in the most challenging of conflicts, we can extend our ability to understand and gain perspective of the rupture and move toward with greater confidence and repair through empathy.
Increasing empathy as the bridge to connection will increase the rich engagement we seek in our lives.