I am currently writing a training manual based off biblical principles to help counsel and heal others. The area on empathy spoke volumes to me and I hope it will to you too.
Let’s say something is hurting you, or you need help in some area. I want you to stop for a minute before we go any further and think about someone in your life that really understands you. Do you have a person or persons you can go to and be totally raw with ? I am not talking about someone who will give you the advice they think you want to hear whether good, bad, or indifferent. I am talking about someone who truly gets you by listening. Here are some indicators to help you assess those people in your life. If you don’t have at least one person in your life that meets this assessment, then I suggest you pray and ask God to bring that person into your life. He will! We need support along the way and God designed us for relationship.
When a listener ranks low on the empathy scale it will look like this….
Ridicules the speaker’s feelings
Puts down speaker for something they must have done
Challenges speaker’s perceptions and ideas
Defensive when speakers let’s them know how this is making them feel
Disregarding/dismissing needs, dreams, desires of speakers
Plays devil’s advocate
Do any of these resonate with you? Can you take an honest look at yourself and see ways you can improve when listening to others? See, God said we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Others are suppose to be drawn to us. Are others drawn to you?
When a listener ranks high on the empathy scale it will look like this….
The speaker immediately has a AHA moment, they feel like they can breathe in relief when listener understands them
The listener accurately identifies main feelings. They are looking for the clues that communicate understanding of feelings
The listener goes beyond the obvious feelings to the underlying feelings of the speaker.
The speaker feels they are being heard so they open up and expand even more. ( this is where ideas even begin to grow that help solve the challenge in front of them)
It’s much like if someone laughs at your jokes you become funnier and funnier. When someone feels safe to share and empathy is present, then healing takes place. The speaker’s perception of the situation changes. The begin to feel energized again. New light shines on the situation.
Whom are the people you go to for advice? I am not talking about the hard, practical ones who tell you exactly what to do or how they would do it but to real listeners. Real listeners are kind, least censorious, the least bossy people you know. When people listen and display empathy there is a alternating current that takes place and recharges us so that we never get tired of each other. We are constantly being recreated. You may know a brilliant person but they are a terrible listener. You may know an entertaining person, but they exhaust you if you are in their presence for too long.
When someone listens to you, you go home rested and lighthearted, allowing your heart and your mind to expand, unfolding into a new realm of possibilities. That money can’t buy!
What B.U and S.S say about listening….
This little creative fountain of listening is in all of us. It is the spirit, the intelligence, or the imagination whatever you want to call it. If you are very tired, strained, have no solitude, run too many errands, talk to too many people, drink too many cocktails, have random sex with others, lean on your own understanding, this little fountain or light is muddied over and covered with a lot of debris The result is you stop living from the center ( where God resides) and you live from the periphery, from externals.That is you go on mere willpower without imagination. That is….. you choose to go it alone.
Think of it like this… This person right now is wanting to show me their soul. How grateful am I?