Morning Muse

How to Find Empathy

How do I have empathy for this person when I'm really not feeling any empathy? And I thought that was a very interesting question. And I would imagine many of us have had times like that where we've really felt that way. And all of us wanna be really good leaders, friends, parents, and sometimes we have to dig really deep. So how do we do that? How do we conjure up that empathy when we're really not feeling it? And one of the first things that we can do that is very practical and is sometimes challenging. That is just acknowledge how we're feeling. So, you know, we are all going through a lot. The last two years have been interesting to say the least, and it's ongoing. We're going through a lot of transitions, very stressed online school in real life school, probably the energy levels are changing daily and you're noticing more and more what you can do and what you can't do anymore.

And sometimes when we're tired, the empathy goes first. So just acknowledge where you are. Once you acknowledge, where you are the second thing that is really helpful that I started doing many, many years ago, because I actually observed somebody very close in my life doing this, uh, and saw how effective it was for him. I started having the pity party of one. And what that is, is just giving yourself a break. High achievers typically don't give ourselves a break. Instead we pick up the baseball bat, we hit ourselves over the head with it and we say, keep going. And that's not always possible. And when we do the pity party of one, we give ourselves just a little bit of space to take the time to acknowledge that we're not feeling so great. And sometimes that means a cry. Sometimes that means, you know, I, um, uh, throw a few baskets.

Sometimes that means I play a round of golf because it just feels good to hit those balls. Sometimes I just get a cup of tea, light, a candle, whatever it is, it's some kind of a ritual to acknowledge that, hey, something's happened here. It's not going well. And it's a way to nurture yourself through that pity party of one. Now that we've done that we've acknowledged we've had the pity party of one. The third thing we can do is really try to get in the other person's shoes that we're trying to have empathy for and just ask ourselves what is going on and their lives too. And when we do this, we can understand, you know, they've got kids, they've got transitions, they have spouses that or partners that are having a hard time too, they have parents at home that they're caring for. And we create what I like to call this little bridge of understanding.

And if we can kind of walk ourselves along that bridge of understanding of getting in their shoes, we can tap into some of that empathy that we have lost. But the only way we're able to do that is if we have first given empathy to ourselves, because you can't give from an empty cup or pour from an empty cup, as they say. So once we create that bridge of understanding, then the next thing we can do is really think about and remind ourselves that we often think that it's somebody's character that is creating the problem when it might just really be an interpretation that they are having, or we are having to a situation. And once we remind ourselves of that, we're able to go back to our bridge of understanding, connect with some of that empathy. And after all of this, giving your self empathy and then creating that bridge of understanding to create some empathy, by being able to get into their shoes.

If we can't tap into the empathy, don't have the conversation yet, say, let's table this and have this another day. I have certainly used that before. Uh, my husband would tell you, you, that he has sometimes asked me for empathy. And there are times when we all get depleted, even me as the coach. And I have actually said to him, I just don't have any empathy today. I am sorry, but let's talk about it tomorrow. And I will have plenty of empathy again or an hour from now. And that's okay too. We have to accept where we are and be honest. And that's actually the key to being authentic and being a trusted leader. So hopefully these steps and tips and techniques and tricks, whatever you wanna call them, have been helpful to you in trying to reconnect with that empathy when you really need to pull some empathy out when you're starting from empty.

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