Brene Brown is an incredible author that has dedicated most of her adult life to studying shame and vulnerability. I ran across one of her quotes the other day and it’s been playing on repeat in my mind ever since. She writes “in order to empathize with someone’s experience you must be willing to believe them as they see it and not how you imagine their experience to be.”
Wow. How often do we shame or judge others because they describe their experience differently than what we think they “should”? Calling them dramatic, over the top, a hypocondriac, or something else. The question is, have we ever been in their shoes? Ever worked three jobs to make ends meet? Ever been a single parent? Ever been in the exact same circumstances they’re in? Simply put, the answer is no. No because no two circumstances are the same for every person.
In fact, just reading this email, your experience is going to be different than someone else’s. Last week, the email went out and I had someone unsubscribe. Ok, it happens, I wasn’t meant to help that person. Not but two minutes after getting the unsubscribe notice, I had someone else reach out to me and thank me for writing the message that I did. She needed it at that time and it helped her. Same email. Completely different responses.
Life is even more complex than reading an email. Yet we shame others or find ourselves being shamed because our circumstances are different than someone else’s perception of what they should be.
How connected to your neighbors are you? How well do you really know your friends? How well do you really know your spouse? Not who your spouse was when you married them but your spouse now, in this moment? We are always evolving, changing and growing but we hold onto the way people were ten, twenty, thirty years ago.
Empathy and compassion are two of the most powerful forces in this world. They are also two that are most lacked and most sought after. Our deep human desire to be seen, heard, known and accepted is lost in the sea of other’s need to check things off the list, get through each day and prepare for the race of the next day.
This week, I challenge you to reach out to someone you think you know and get to know them on a different level. Ask them about who they are now. What makes them tick? What are they passionate about? What experience have they gone through that you weren’t there for them when they needed you most? Be open to understanding their situation not as you believe it should be but as they experienced it. If you’re married, start there. Often times empathy is the most lacked emotion in our marriages simply because we’ve been with our partner so long that we take them for granted and see them as they used to be rather than how they are.
The world would be a much better place if we showed the same empathy and compassion for others that we so desperately crave ourselves.
Enjoy your week and check out the FREE challenge I am running next week in my Facebook Group!! It’s going to be powerful!!