Are you hiding behind empathy?
When you discover the magic of empathy, you might encounter the temptation to stay there even when your own feelings and needs are wanting expression.
As you begin to offer empathy in more and more interactions you will likely find that most people are starved for empathy. A little bit of empathy can open a floodgate of feelings and needs for them and they jump at the chance to be heard.
The more skilled you become the longer you can continue to stay present to their feelings and needs and the more they open and express. It's easy for the interaction to become one sided.
Over the years I have consciously cultivated this ability to hold a space for others and offer empathy. It's comfortable and usually easy. And, I have caught myself hiding there.
In Nonviolent Communication the intention is to create connection by attending to what is most alive. In my experience, attending to what's most alive opens the door to compassion and wisdom. If you and I are connecting, we will notice how peaks of aliveness flow back and forth between us. We follow that aliveness like music in a dance.
Offering empathy is to focus your attention on the feelings and needs of the other without losing connection with yourself. Your attention is on the other and still you notice when feelings and needs pop up for you. Then when the music shifts you say, "I notice something came up for me just now. Are you in place to hear it?"
This week look for opportunities to express your feelings and needs when you might be tempted to hide. Let yourself follow that aliveness through your fear of vulnerability. Step more fully into who you are in each moment.