“Even if you did no other practice, consistently meeting your need for empathy would be life-changing in and of itself,” says Ike Lasater.
What’s Going on for You?
Last week’s tip explored the value of using self-empathy to help you approach a difficult conversation from an intention of connection, rather than defensiveness, anger or pain.
After you’ve given yourself adequate empathy, your attention and focus will likely turn to the other person, and the question that typically arises is some version of “What is going on with them?”
If you ask this question before having met your own need for empathy, your mind will typically jump to analyzing the other person’s “wrongness” with thoughts like “None of this would have happened if he hadn’t been such a jerk.” When you are full of empathy, however, the question becomes, “Which needs of theirs are they seeking to meet?”
You can ask this question safely by using silent empathy, which works the same as self-empathy except that you are internally inquiring about another person instead of yourself. You’re guessing what is going on with the other person, what needs they are trying to meet with their action or behavior.
With these two steps completed – self-empathy and silent empathy – you’ll find your demeanor, your body language, your presence and your intention may have shifted into a space of compassion or at least more understanding and openness. From this space, you are much more likely to meet your needs as well as those of the other person.
Mindful Practice for the Week
This week, practice the tools of self-empathy and silent empathy to prepare for a difficult conversation or encounter. Pay close attention to shifts you experience in how you feel, your body language, and your self-talk as you do so.
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