This video ends with a hug!

Within the past two weeks we’ve been discussing celibacy, marriage, language for describing celibate partnership, the value of listening to diverse stories, and much more. To give ourselves a break and our readers a chance to catch up, we are taking a day off from our usual kind of blog entry. Today, we would like to share with you a short video titled “The Power of Empathy.” We think it’s good to get a refresher every once in a while on the differences between empathy and sympathy because none of us is the perfect listener. It can be easy to forget that when a person is experiencing something difficult, he or she might just need to hear, “I’m glad you were able to share that with me.” Both of us are fixers by nature–when someone has a problem, we want to find a solution and make it better. We appreciated the reminder that attempting to remedy the problem and searching for “silver linings” aren’t necessarily the most helpful or welcome approaches. We hope you will enjoy this video as much as we did. Our favorite part is that it ends with a hug!

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4 thoughts on “This video ends with a hug!

    • Someone showed us this video a couple of weeks ago, and almost immediately we knew that we wanted to share it here. When engaging in tough conversations like we often do here, knowing about empathy is essential. One thing we were talking about before posting this was that the “silver lining” approach is taught to many people from a young age, even though it’s not helpful. Any thoughts on why that approach has been the norm in our society for so long?

      • The “silver lining” approach has been the norm because it works for a lot of things — and when it does work, it’s a really great fix that’s easy to administer. It’s sort of like bandaids fix most minor injuries, but they’re a really bad idea in the face of a serious haemorrhage. I run into this with my kids all the time. If they have a little problem, I’ll silver lining it and they’ll go away happy. If they have a big problem, then I go into empathy mode. If I used empathy for every time they had a stubbed toe, or a minor tiff over a video game I would be completely emotionally exhausted all the time and they would be encouraged to overdramatize everything. Basically the “silver lining” approach is a way of saying “your problem is not actually that bad” and it’s appropriate for all kinds of minor, short-term emergencies. It becomes problematic when its used for something like a miscarriage, or marital breakdown, or an eating disorder, or anything that actually is really bad.

        • Thanks Melinda for sharing these thoughts. There are some problems where a simple “Look on the Bright Side” goes a long way. Developing empathy skills often requires knowing which to use when. It’s curious how sympathy comes out when normally very understanding people encounter really big problems that throw them for a loop. We absolutely agree that using empathy for every problem is incredibly exhausting.

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