Empathy Skill #5: Pay Attention
You’ve been practicing naming your emotions and identifying the emotions of others. But what about the hard emotions? What do we do with the emotions that feel negative?
Did you read the Scripture for today? Jesus mentions a three-letter word we like to avoid in the church: sin.
Sin, simply put, is separation from God. Because it’s hard, difficult and challenging you may not want to talk about it. But here we are, together, talking about it. That’s the key to “paying attention” as an empathy skill: acknowledging and naming the negative.
Jesus names what is negative, but he doesn’t dwell on it. He doesn’t get emotionally hooked by what the Jews are saying. Jesus also doesn’t create more drama where there isn’t drama. He models paying attention beautifully.
Now before you say, “Yes, Jesus models paying attention so well I don’t think I can do it.”
Scapegoating on Jesus is still scapegoating, ok?
You can do this.
Here’s the thing: if you have a pattern of not paying attention to the negative, this will be challenging. Be kind to yourself and take a baby step. You just acknowledged you don’t like to deal with the negative. What a great place to start. Tomorrow, try to name what emotions are negative to you. If you need the help of a counselor or other helping professional to do this work, that’s a great next step too.
The point here is to acknowledge the negative but don’t get sucked into a death spiral of negative emotions. Be mindful and take good care. Both are needed. Too much negative and you’re wallowing. Too much positive and we seem unreal. Ignore the negative, you’re not dealing with reality either. Give too much credit to the positive, yes, you guessed it, it’s not reality either. It takes work to not suppress or exaggerate your emotions. Live with that challenge today. Jesus is our example.
What negative or positive emotions do you tend to suppress and exaggerate?
Today, be mindful of the emotions you identified in the “reflect” section. Pay attention to how these emotions come up in your life, the lives of others, and even in the media.
Almighty God, you model the way for us in your Son Jesus. Thank you for showing us the delicate balance between suppression and exaggeration. I am grateful for the challenge to be mindful of what I am feeling. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
What emotions did you notice being suppressed or exaggerated in your life, the lives of others, or the media today? What step can you take to find a balance to the emotions?
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.