Empathy Fail

A few months ago, I read something from Brene Brown about vulnerability, etc.  During the whole talk, one of the key things she pointed out is that when you share your story – your vulnerability with someone – the way they react to it can make it better (less vulnerable feeling) or much worse.  And the difference between those feelings is simple – whether or not your word are met with empathy.

She described empathy is something very simple – when someone is telling you about the hole they feel they are sitting in, you don’t look down and say “that sucks” – you climb in and say “I hate it when that happens” – then you listen.  Sure, you may know how to get out of the hole, but they need an ear and support to feel they can get out of it too.  A very simple way of looking at it.

Last night, something happened.  I was quite angry and upset – and reached out to a friend.  Who, instead of going “wow, I hate it when that happens because it makes me feel that way too” decided to make me articulate how I was going to get out of this hole.  Then once described,  decided to comment on it.  “Well, this is different – so how can you assure you aren’t still in the hole” and “sure this hole looks similar to that last one – but this one is deeper and has rocks and isn’t nearly as easy to climb out of it.”


I know we all look at others struggles and support outwardly, but silently critique and, I’ll even go as far as say judge, the other person’s struggles.  We’re all human, so embrace that fact and move on.  But here is the difference – when you inside voice becomes your outside voice, you are just being a fucking asshat.   And especially if you are throwing stones from inside your own glass house.

One of the things Brene Brown says repeatedly when putting together how and who you should share your story with is “make sure that person is worthy”.  It’s funny how many of these people of late would have always been worthy in the past, but are quickly finding themselves unworthy – unable to handle my story and my thoughts.

And that is fine.  Shit changes – circumstances change – but damn.  Admit is and move on – don’t dig in and poke and prod and generally be a dick about it.

Because in the end, the way this person handled me as “her friend” was worse that the situation I was upset about.

Ironic, huh?

What do you think?

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