Are you listening so that you can respond to the speaker or are you taking in what they are saying in an effort to help them unload the weight off their shoulders?
When we are empathetic, we place ourselves in the a world where there is no judgement against the speaker – just a careful listener that accepts your voice and your experience. It isn’t easy for us, to have an empathic ear – someone who will not tell me what I did wrong, no one to scold me, no one ready to give me assumed advice, no one to turn me away, just a vessel where I can deposit my grief and possibly move on.
Being empathetic isn’t one way or the other, it is something you learn or it is born you are born with. You have the skill set from early on, you may or may not be aware of it, it rests comfortably between your conscience and ego. Whereas most empathic individuals lack ego in giving a response to those they are listening to, they take extra effort in keep their own ego in check. But for most, it is easy to go into advice mode, far more difficult to just listen.
We have come to lack the ability in general, the ability to listen. We aren’t truly paying attention, either we are distracted by our cell phones or we have our own filters going off in our heads. It takes skill to slow down your breathing, clear your head, stop being in “respond” mode and just allow the other person to speak. It has almost become socially unacceptable to be a good listener, everyone expects a conversation to be more of a debate than anything else.
What happens to the empathetic vessel? The one who listens may take in the words and carry the burden that the speaker is unloading, the healthier option is to listen but not turn into a carrier. You are not responsible for resolving matters, you are not responsible for rerouting this person’s life – you are only responsible for allowing the speaker a safe place to express their pain, anxiety and frustration. Being empathetic takes great skill in that you can’t allow yourself to be inhaled into the speaker’s issues. It is a powerful skill to have and when used properly by both sides it is amazing how much clarity it can provide. Life gets hard enough, grab on to the fact that there are positive resources in life. Big hug!
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