“The truth is, Rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection.”
– brene brown
There’s this amazing video depicting empathy by Brene Brown that changed my life when I watched it. She talks about the difference between empathy and sympathy, the mistakes we tend to make when attempting to give empathy, and what we should be doing instead. It’s super short, yet super powerful! The animation helps you understand well, too.
Watch it, please. It will prepare you for this next week’s topics of depression in marriage, but it also will just make you a better person for your family and friends! Below the video are my additional thoughts on applying empathy in marriage, as well as some quotes from her presentation.
“Empathy is feeling with people.”
I love the idea of relating to each other as a people. It’s fun to find those commonalities because there is so much that connects us and I think deep down we all yearn for that connection. So I love how empathy is another way of relating to someone but in a more important and loving way.
I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know about empathy until I had to apply it in my marriage on a more important level. Many times I tried to give advice or solve the problem when a situation had my husband down. I think many times Trevor wanted to say to me, “IT’S NOT ABOUT THE NAIL.” Hahaha (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, go watch this hilarious yet true video!). I realized that sometimes all your spouse needs is to know you care about what they are feeling, that you understand or are trying to understand by listening, and they feel your love.
Another easy mistake we can make is talking about ourselves too much, thinking that it’s creating connection and maybe giving them comfort. For example, we start out with: “I’m sorry, I know how that feels.” Instead of stopping right there, we keep going and tell them the story of what happened to us that supposedly was a similar situation. Sometimes this works out and they feel better; maybe realizing their situation could be much worse. However, I think it’s mostly just steering that connection away because it’s become about you instead of them. Maybe see if they want to know how you can relate, first.
Below are some of my fav quotes from her discussion that I love, and can have a powerful impact if we remember them! Stay tuned this week for more blog posts on how important empathy can be in your marriage when it comes to having a spouse or both of you, suffering from depression.
I always think of empathy as this kind of sacred space where someone’s kind of in a deep hole and they shout out from the bottom: “I’m stuck. It’s dark. I’m overwhelmed.”
And then we look and we say, “Hey, (climb down) I know what it’s like down here, and you’re not alone.”
“Empathy is a choice, and it’s a vulnerable choice.
Because in order to connect with you, I have to connect with something in myself that knows that feeling.”