Empathy Opens Doors
Whereas withdrawal and isolation involve a closing of self to other, empathy opens doors and creates new possibilities.
Empathy reminds us that we're all connected. I don't think I'm the only one who occasionally gets in my head, thinking that I'm the only one experiencing the pain I have. While no one else has my story, no one else has my exact life, when I stop and think about it, I know there are others who have felt my pain. There is a measure of consolation here, as the combination of pain and utter aloneness somehow can make it seem unbearable. On the flip side, rather than be aloof to the feelings of others, allowing myself to see and experience them creates connection and removes the separation that comes from judgment.
Empathy opens doors. Rather than maintaining an illusion of "having it all together," being with someone in their shit or having someone be with mine allows emotions and energies to flow where blockages might otherwise build. When we hold onto and suppress our feelings, we gradually begin to diminish our own expression and ability to connect. Empathy can be just the right disarming force... Someone sees. Someone understands. Someone is with me in this.
Empathy creates new possibilities. Empathy takes two potentially parallel lives and creates an intersection. From the rich soil of empathy, who knows what will grow? So many of our (albeit very complex) social issues of our day are compounded by lines around love and empathy. "Well," we rationalize to ourselves, "I don't have to feel what THAT person is feeling because it's WRONG." Is it? Do we know this? When you stop and create space by listening and feeling with another person, lines are blurred and humanity (or maybe all of us in our humanness) is revealed. Imagine if these larger conversations were met with feeling deeply what our brothers and sisters on the margins were experiencing. I must warn you, however, that once you open up and allow yourself to feel things deeply (especially from someone of another viewpoint), you may be disrupted yourself. Are you willing to take the risk?
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find a place in your heart where you have found yourself to be calloused and allow yourself to be moved by another person there TODAY.
To removing all the lines that hinder love,
I won't tell you HOW, but EMPATHY has much to do with living a life of "Relentless Forward Progress." If you haven't yet, check out my upcoming workshop that will tie-in empathy (and much else) with living a life that matters. Click the button below. :)