How do people you experience authentic empathy for affect you?
Estimated Reading Time: 5 Minutes
When you say you empathize with someone, do their actions or words still bother you?
To continue the focus on authentic empathy, we will shift from an external view to an internal one. Rather than asking if people who understand you empathize with you, today I invite you to ask yourself a different question. Take a few minutes to contemplate the following question…
When you experience authentic empathy for someone, does that automatically mean that their actions and words will not bother you?
Throughout my life, I felt that understanding a person meant their actions would not bother me. I always thought that was the way it should work. I related it to being able to look at someone and say, “That’s just Paul being Paul.” Then, I experienced times when even though I understood someone, their actions still bothered me. This led me to question my level of authentic empathy for the person. After some soul-searching and knowing that, deep down in my core I empathized with the person, I found that their actions and words still bothered me. This led to the realization that the two are not mutually exclusive. At least they are not mutually exclusive in the heat of the moment.
At one time, I had a friend who loved to scare people and play pranks on them. When he knew you were going to come around a corner, he would wait just out of sight. Then, he would jump out and scare the living daylights out of you. This is the way he grew up. His parents and siblings did this to him and each other all the time. The first time he did this to me, we both discovered how different our childhoods were. While he became accustomed to scaring and being scared, my experiences growing up were different. So, when he did it to me the first time, I was kind of upset.
Before the first time he did it, I knew how he was raised. I would hear the stores and we would laugh about them. When I heard him tell the stories, I could relate to him and his family. You could tell they were not doing it with malice in their hearts. You could tell it was just something they did. Even with all this knowledge, when he did it to me, it bothered me a great deal. Over time, we talked and found a happy medium. I would try to not get upset if he did it to me again and he would try not to do it to me again.
When I looked back on this, I wondered why his actions bothered me so much. I knew we was not trying to be mean. I knew we were raised differently. Then it dawned on me. Trust is one of my core beliefs. When he would jump out and scare me, I was subconsciously taking it as a trust-breaking activity. I could not trust that I was safe in a house with him. While this sounds like a stretch and an exaggeration, it does not matter to our subconscious. That is why the conversation he and I had was so critical. It gave me a way to rebuild my trust in him and no longer see his actions as violating one of my core beliefs.
Experiencing authentic empathy for someone does not automatically mean you accept everything they do. If something they do violates one of your core beliefs, that action will still bother you even after you develop authentic empathy for them. Experiencing authentic empathy for someone can mitigate the effects of the actions you do not like. The good news is that, when you mitigate the effects of someone’s actions, you are more open to having an empathetic conversation with them. This conversation will give you the best chance to come up with a middle ground so that they can still be them and any stress you feel is reduced.
Having authentic empathy for someone means their words and actions do not bother you unless they violate your core beliefs.
How this applies to fear…
When it comes to fear and people’s actions bothering you, many of us feel that we should accept the actions of our friends and family. Many of us fear that if people’s actions bother us, it means we do not accept them for who they are. I invite you to see that you can both accept someone for who they are and feel bothered by something someone does when it directly affects you. When this happens, talk with the other person. That way, you can choose one of three ways to reduce stress on yourself. You can work together to figure out how not to let it bother you. You can figure out how to meet in the middle, so you are both happy. You can figure out that you must move on so that you are no longer exposed to that person’s actions.
How this applies to WACASHWI…
When it comes to WACASHWI and people’s actions bothering you, part of the process is to make more life-aligned choices. The more mental energy you can devote to the process the more successful you will be. When you empathize with someone and their actions still bother you, you increase your stress level. When this happens, talk with the other person. That way, you can choose one of three ways to reduce stress on yourself. You can work together to figure out how not to let it bother you. You can figure out how to meet in the middle, so you are both happy. You can figure out that you must move on so that you are no longer exposed to that person’s actions. Doing this will also empower you to put items on your list to move you towards you goal with that person.
Your daily invitations…
- I invite you to think about how you handle it when you empathize with someone. Does empathy automatically mean someone’s actions do not bother you?
- I invite you to think about a particular person in your life (past of present) and how empathy did or did not change the way you felt about their actions.
- I invite you to consider how changing your view of empathy as it relates to other people’s actions would positively affect your life.
- I invite you to write down your thoughts, feelings, and actions in your journal.
- I invite you to talk to the people you thought about above if it is safe to do so.
Final step – how will you implement one thing you learned today in your life?