Empathy and connection – what happens when you suck at it?

A photo posted by Brené Brown (@brenebrown) on

This post form the lovely Brene couldn’t have been more timely for me.
Boy oh boy have I not mastered this today, and in light of my recent intention for this year, I feel it even more acutely.

My commitment to ‘connection’ for 2017, must also require a commitment to empathy.

It’s so interesting what always happens when I set a conscious intention. What inevitably follows, are many opportunities, examples and reminders of how to live into that commitment….which of course on days like today, slap me in the face like a hungry toddler at 5am!

The space I found so difficult to hold today was one of ‘withholding judgement’. This manifests in so many ways, not least a critical, overbearing, exasperated presence that just make the possibility of fostering connection even more distant. Argh!

When I find I’m being overly judgemental, particularly with the smalls, it’s a big signal for me to get to the heart of the matter and quick, before it sets seed and becomes a pattern that’s even more difficult to shift.

In seeking to understand what’s driving overly judgemental behaviour I try to ask ‘what is the fear at the root of my inability to trust?”

I find, time and time again, that fear drives judgement and, often, at the root of fear is an inability to trust. Either not trusting in the natural unfolding of things, not trusting in the essentially perfect and beautiful nature of another person, or myself, or not trusting that I’ve got what I need to deal with whatever is unfolding.

When I can see that the driver for my behaviour is fear, it helps me connect more compassionately with myself and provide the mothering and nurture that I need. Which is the precursor to me being able to hold that space for the children.

It’s so much harder to have empathy for others when it’s an unmet need of our own.

To connect compassionately and empathetically with myself requires me to make space to listen. To hear the messages of my heart without judgement. There are many ways in which I can create that space to tune in with empathy and the two I find most powerful and efficient are: journaling and meditation.

So if I am to learn the lessons from today and seek to start anew with insight and recommitment tomorrow, I must away to rebuild that connection with myself.

The unravelling of how that connection was lost in the first place is for another time.

In solidarity

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