Empathy Skill #3 and #4:
To understand another person’s feelings and to communicate your understanding of another person’s feelings
If you’re not comfortable in the world of emotions and not fluent in the language of feelings, welcome to the land of normal. If find yourself there, you’re in good company. You also have an opportunity to learn and grow. The empathy skills we’re exploring today are not easy. In fact, in the scripture passage, we see how quickly you can move from empathy to confusion.
Empathy: Read John 8:22. The Jews are concerned. They’re wondering if something horrible is going to happen. Is he going to hurt himself?
Confusion: Read John 8:27. They did not understand.
Sympathy: While this isn’t in the passage, I’m including it here because sympathy and empathy are often confused. Empathy is about feeling with people. The concern for Jesus’ life could have spiraled into feeling sorry for him. Sympathy is feeling for people. It does not foster a connection. Empathy is feeling with people. It fosters connection.
Consider a moment you were misunderstood. What did you feel at that moment? Were you hurt, embarrassed, frustrated, disappointed, or something else? Reference the list of core emotions to push beyond the three emotions, “Happy, sad, mad” that most of us CAN identify.
Seek today to understand the emotions of someone important to you. Practice communicating your understanding of their feelings. Remember to focus on connecting with the emotion, not the experience to practice empathy. Also, keep in mind if you’re slipping into trying to feel for the person that is important to you. That’s sympathy, not empathy. Keep practicing, even when you don’t get it right. That’s how we learn.
Lord Jesus, thank you for meeting me where I am. Guide me today as I seek to be a person of empathy. Remind me when I get it wrong, that you’re there helping me to rise again and try again. Thank you for your patient love, Lord. I’m humbled. Amen.
What did you do well today in seeking to understand the emotions of someone important to you? What was an empathetic miss? Remember to try again tomorrow!
If you haven’t taken a moment to review the “Overview of It Takes Courage” please do so. You’ll find a few tips that will help you start this journey.