Empathy's Quicksand

Parents love their kids. Focusing that love into skillful action is maybe the biggest part of my struggle as a dad and as a teacher. Clearly seeing my short-term reactions & responses to my kids helps me up their odds in the long-term. We seem to change and grow slowly in most of the important ways (think manners, habits of character, school, etc. with our kids...). However, we often decry the slow, the old, the measured response--we celebrate the young, the instant, the reactive. It seems pretty likely that this may be a big part of our suffering, individually and collectively. We want better for people--especially the people we love the most!

Let’s say you were baking a cake that took fifty minutes at 350 degrees, but you decided you wanted it in ten minutes instead of fifty. Here’s an idea: Why not cook it at 1750 degrees for ten minutes? Sounds like a plan—the only problem is, you’ll get soot. It cannot work. You cannot override Mother Nature. {"Empathy is a False God, Responsiveness if the real deal," Psychology Today, posted 08 Jun, 2015}

We're taught that a big part of this is empathy or putting myself in their shoes. Empathy can be emotional quicksand. True empathy demands that I look at ownership of a situation or struggle. I invent a million ways to grasp and try to hold onto a rope that isn't mine...and I end up burned, hurting, upset. And the other person's problem often only gets worse or gets kicked down the road even further. Stepping back from my kids' struggles when the price tag is affordable demands a courage I can't muster on lots of days--I fly off the handle, I rescue, I create a thousand stories that muddy the waters of things that aren't really mine to own, fix, or solve. Marshall Rosenberg really hit the nail on the head: With empathy, I'm fully with them, not full of them --that's sympathy.

#warriorsoftheopenheart #warriorsnotworriers #courage #empathy #lovelikeawarrior