Empathy isn’t just listening, it’s asking the questions whose answers need to be listened to. Empathy requires inquiry as much as imagination. Empathy requires knowing you know nothing. Empathy means acknowledging a horizon of context that extends perpetually beyond what you can see.
~ Leslie Jamison
Empathy is a fundamentally important element of relationship skills and indispensable for holding space. Though it is often defined as imagining what something would feel like for us and/ or remembering similar experiences of our own to relate to another’s shared feeling or state, empathy can entail more than that. When it is conscious and we come from a few premises it holds profound healing and transformational capacities for all involved:
* Knowing that all of us are unique in how we perceive and feel in subtler dimensions and choosing to experience and feel life from another’s vantage point.
* Asking questions and listening to the the answers not simply with our logical minds but also with our body, our heart and gut.
* Understanding the power and necessity of comprehension with more than our minds, the value of a felt sense of another’s reality.
If our relating is meant to be expansive and healing we need to be able to communicate, mirror back to another that we hear, see and feel them. The power and healing of being seen, heard and felt cannot be overstated as an indispensable need in service of our wellbeing and health.
Knowing that most of us carry deep woundings in this area from early childhood relational trauma and that their healing can only partly be done alone can motivate us to be mindful in how we meet our dear ones.
Not many things hurt us like being met in our rawness and vulnerability of emotions with indifference, rejection, insincerity or detachment.
Sometimes we have to dare to get into the “dangerous” waters of our emotions to be with the ones we love or engage to share a meaningful moment of connection, understanding and union.
We have a choice to either deepen the groves of trauma or be part of the healing for everyone we encounter.