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a contagion worth spreading: Empathy

Going on eighteen months of this nonsense: Isolation. Restrictions. Uncertainty… We’re all exhausted. Our mental health is suffering. I’m not even sure I see an end in sight anymore–do you?

It’s been a struggle. We’ve bee battling our inner demons throughout this pandemic, and it’s really starting to show. Everyday I hear about or witness more and more unspeakable ugliness. People being rude, unreasonable and just generally ruthless in their regard to other people. The world seemingly stuck in a mentality of “every man, woman and child for themselves!” We’re all suffering. Yet, no one seems to care enough to help.

I’m writing this blog today in hopes of spreading a new contagion: Empathy.

Like me, I’m sure you understand the word and know that it means to empathize with another person–to offer a shoulder to cry on, or an ear to listen–the funny thing about empathy though, is the level of misunderstanding it has. Often confused with sympathy, it becomes a tangled web of misguided support. We always feel we are lending our best self to a friend in need–but are you? Brené Brown does a REMARKABLE job of explaining the difference between empathy and sympathy. This video his changed the way I offer support to others. It’s only a couple minutes long, and you can watch it by clicking below:

Click here to watch:

Mind blown? Mine was. It was a couple years ago when I first saw this clip, and at first I was embarrassed. Embarrassed at the number of times I caught myself saying “at least.” Ashamed with myself for the rate in which I handed out these unnecessary silver linings; guilty even, for not knowing better. But then I reminded myself of the beauty within this newfound knowledge: It was the opportunity to better myself, the chance to grow, learn and truly offer the intended support. I find myself still using “at least” from time to time, but these days it’s much more carefully placed. Silver linings are still useful in supporting others, its simply learning and knowing the appropriate time to bring them into play.

I hope that my words and the lesson from Brene Brown have resonated with you on some level. Normal WILL RETURN one day–hopefully soon–in the meantime though, lets work together and support one another to break free from the internal slump we are all sitting in. Offer Empathy, and hope it’s more contagious than the Covid-blow our mental health has suffered through.

Hang in there. xo

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