Training: Prayer, Meditation and Practice|
by Paul J. Hannig, Ph.D.
person has limits and thresholds for experiencing empathy towards another person.
It becomes fruitless and useless to expect someone to feel empathy for you or
someone else when they have reached the limits of their capacity for feeling empathy.
You, yourself, have your own empathy limits, where someone else's actions, words,
behavior seem so crazy and distressing to you that you feel your empathy limits
being strained to the breaking point. There is no use being angry and disappointed
with yourself when your empathy limits have been surpassed.
this point has been breached by someone else's seemingly insensitive behavior,
actions and words, you'll probably feel like a failure. On the surface, you are
experiencing a failure like feeling for not being able to respond to the situation
with empathy. Your empathic boundaries have been stretched, strained and broken.
What can you do about this dilemma? You certainly would like to have enough powers
of persuasion to convince the offending parties to stop their offensive words
and actions. But, alas! That may not be the case and you are left with a dilemma.
of becoming more empathically capable is your willingness and ability to be open
and receptive to someone else's feedback. Most of us like to think of ourselves
as being honest and open. But upon closer examination, you may notice that the
willingness to receive feedback from someone else is usually a decision that you
choose to make or reject. Feedback, when received, has the power of changing you
and your behavior. Granted, that some feedback is not helpful at all and may even
be destructive in the communication process. But, let's try a simple experiment.
Make the decision, that the next time a relative or a person close to you, decides
to give you feedback, that you will listen and be open and vulnerable to the effects
of that feedback.
for a minute your justifications and rationalizations for not accepting that person's
feedback. Let the information get inside of you and empathically reflect back
to that person your understanding of the feedback. First and maybe foremost, the
feedback may affect you in a positive way and secondly, it might give the sender
the feeling of being influential with you. When you allow another person to feel
effective at influencing you, you make them feel successful and perhaps more loving
towards you. It also gives them the sense that you are an open and receptive person
and that their influence bids are helpful and effective. By being open to the
other person's feedback, you encourage more two-way communication and creative
contributions through the process of feedback.
feedback is non-critical, non-judgemental, non-evaluative and respectful, it becomes
a powerful tool for personal, relationship and business growth. All relationships
depend upon effective feedback for change and growth. It pays to realize that
the power of receiving feedback will enhance your empathic capabilities. The most
successful relationships and partnerships are the ones that fully practice and
understand the power of feedback that is non-critical, non-judgemental and respectful.
Unfortunately, in highly charged emotional situations, people will usually resort
to negatively evaluative, disrespectful judgments. This usually reflects the presence
of hostile and defensive emotions. It is difficult to give and receive effective
respectful feedback when you are engaged in fight/flight/freeze enmeshments. It
is also very difficult to be in a fully open, receptive feedback mode when you
detect any form of judgment or evaluation. Generally speaking, people are sensitive
to negative criticism and will defensively tense up at the slightest hint that
there is something wrong with them.
all like to think of ourselves as competent and well-meaning and when someone
hurls or implies a negative judgment of us, it almost automatically triggers a
defensive response. Once you recognize this natural defensive tendency in yourself,
you can make conscious revisions on how you react to such feedback. It is probably
much easier to process someone else's feedback when you personally solicit or
seek it out. But when feedback comes at you by surprise, you do not know what
to expect and your natural tendency will be to protect yourself. Any situation
where you involuntarily find yourself receiving feedback can be nerve racking
and uncomfortable. You probably feel much more comfortable when someone else asks
you how you feel about a certain situation. If you are allowed to give feedback
to yourself first, you might be able to soften the impact of the other people's
feedback giving weaknesses. Remember that the goal of receiving and/or giving
feedback is to help you or another person to change, grow, solve a problem or
achieve a goal.
Melt Your Mans Heart
just wanted to add when you communicate with empathy to your partner as per Infidelity:
A Survival Guide, book by Don-David Lusterman, a seasoned family therapist,
"Speak in "I" language, not in finger-pointing "you"
language. Report what you are feeling - don't emote (emoting - showing the raw
emotion as this has negative and unpredictable consequences). Don't blame the
other person, but carefully describe what is happening inside yourself. Draw your
partner out as completely as you can. Lose yourself in your partner's feelings.
Put yourself completely in your partner's shoes."
Here is a really
great article: Intentional Dialogue: A Process
for Dissolving Conflict.