Who has earned the trust and the right to hear our story? This is a question I have been pondering since Tuesday. I had the privilege to take a wonderful eCourse with author Brene’ Brown. She has written some incredible books like; I thought it was Just Me, Gifts of Imperfection and Daring Greatly! They are ALL about her research in Shame and how it manifests in our culture today. WOW! Who knew it could be such an intricate part of our psyche and the reasons we react the way we do to people, situations, and life.
Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging….Brene’ Brown
I recently posted a blog about the kind of friends we all have, but I am going to redefine them just a little more with Brene’s definitions of sympathy and empathy.
Situation: You are in a hole. We will call this a physical hole for the sake of semantics and visualization so you can understand and identify these people in your life. We ALL have them! I was able to immediately recognize people around me based on what I learned.
Friend 1: Looks over edge and says, “Whatcha duin down there? How did you get yourself in that hole? Sorry you’re down there and I hope you get out but I’m not coming down there with ya. Good luck!” They feel FOR you but not WITH you….otherwise known as sympathy. This is NOT helpful!
Friend 2: Sees you in hole and immediately jumps in with you and says, “What are you doing down here? How did you let this happen? How are you going to get out of here? How are you going to get ME out of here?” This person has over identified with your hole and gotten in there with you but without the skills to help get either one of you out. I usually feel the need to apologize to this person for letting them know I was in the hole in the first place and consoling them for being in the hole with me. This person cannot handle your disclosure of having actually gotten yourself into a hole and asked THEM for help. They need you to be strong for the times THEY are in the hole and need YOU to help them out. Your “weakness” scares them. I find I am the one “in the hole” with them but this relationship is NEVER reciprocated.
Friend 3: Sees you in the hole and says, “How could you let this happen? I can’t believe you fell in that hole. Don’t you know better than to go near those things!” They are very judgmental about holes in general and those who allow themselves to get into them. After all, if you just do everything right, you wouldn’t have gotten in that hole in the first place. This person is in a hole of some kind themselves but they do not want anyone to know about it. They usually like to make believe they are NOT in a hole. If I don’t tell anyone about MY hole, then I won’t be judged for it. These people are TOXIC to me!
Friend 4: Looks over the edge and says, “Oh you think THAT is a hole? Let me tell you about the one I was in jut last week!” They have to one-up you and are not going to do anything to help you get out of the hole because it isn’t NEAR as big as theirs. All they do is sit on the side and tell you all about their issues and have no empathy OR sympathy.
*Friend 5: The wonderful empathetic friend who sees you in the hole and says, “Wow, I’m so sorry you are in that hole. I will come down there with you until you are ready to come out. I have the skills to help because I remember what it was like the last time I was down there.”
These are the ones who have earned the right to hear our story. When we are in a shame spiral and can say, “You are never going to believe what happened to me today.” And THEY say, “I’m so sorry that happened. Tell me about it, I will do what I can to help even if it is just listening.” There is no judgment, blame or shame. There is an open heart ready to listen. And whatever you tell them will not go any further. It will not be on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram 5 min after you told them.
Who are these people in your life? Who is on your list? It will be a short one most likely……mine is. But I am grateful for those people in my life~