“Empathy has no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgement, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of ‘you’re not alone.'”Brené Brown
“How are you?”
“I’m holding up fine. How are you?”
“Hanging in there.”
And so the conversation goes. But are you ‘fine’? Are you ‘hanging in there’? Or is that just what you say so that people can’t see you breaking inside?
Why do we all feel like we need to be fine all the time? Let me tell you what FINE stands for. Fucked up; Irrational; Neurotic; Emotional. FINE. I am definitely fine. And I am not ashamed to admit it. Some days I am more fine than others. Some days I am feeling happy and completely in control. Right now, I can monitor those emotions on an hourly basis. Not daily. I think most people can relate. Actually, right now, I think every single person can relate. So why are we so determined to always be ready with the answer, ‘I am fine’. Let’s be honest.
In the age of social media which we are so definitively and irrefutably immersed in today, we are constantly barraged with positive messages. Messages of how to brighten your day. How to practice gratitude. How to smile amidst the chaos. Sunshine and roses people. Sunshine and roses. But what does this do to some of us? I will tell you what it does to me. It makes me feel sad. It makes me feel angry. It makes me feel alone. Am I a positive person? Yes. I most definitely am. But am I positive all the time. Most definitely not. Neither are you and neither is the cute little princess posting rays of positive sunshine streaming out of a unicorns ass 3 times a day. It is not realistic. So instead, can we please be real?
I was recently referred to Brené Brown and had the pleasure of listening to her talk about empathy. I highly recommend it. Empathy is what we need right now. Not sympathy. I don’t need to hear ‘I know things are tough but at least you still have your job’. And you may not need to hear ‘I know you don’t have a job but at least you are home with your family’. We are all dealing with our own unique challenges right now. No matter your story (and there are so many stories), what we all need is to listen to each other. We need to share our vulnerabilities right now and not be afraid to show them. We need to allow others see us sweat. Or cry. Or scream. That is how we will know we are not alone.
You may think that letting this go, letting this out is going to make you weak. That negativity has won. Believe me it hasn’t and it won’t! This thinking can not be further from the truth. Being honest with yourself and those around you just releases those feelings. And when you release those feelings, you make room for other things. Like, maybe laughter. Maybe relief. Maybe serenity.
So. Be vulnerable. Be sad. Be real. I am. Put your broken hearts in the window and maybe tomorrow, that unicorn will stop by with his tail wagging, lick your cheek and give you a big ol’ smooch! Oh, and laugh people. Please laugh. I am doing that too as much and as often as I can. Don’t ever leave that out.