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Empathy: The Gift of Presence


Who said communication requires a language?
Who said communication requires a language? (Photo credit: Vineet Radhakrishnan)

No, I am not speaking of how one might walk into a room and manage to turn heads. Although I am an expert at that darlings.I’m talking about the act of being present. Not present, like at the same dinner table, or in the same room occupied by screen time.

Presence – the act of being fully engaged and empathetic in the presence of another human being. Yah, don’t bother trying to wiki that folks. It’s my own definition, but it’s a damn good one.

I’m all about motivation, inspiration, and creating your own luck. I’m also all about being real, getting to the heart of things, and zenning out.

Every once in a while I am also all about losing my temper, being totally annoyed, and tired of always being the better person. After all, everyone should be trying to be the better person. Right?

During the holiday season, our ability to be present is tested by the limits of time, money, and patience. Friends who suffer loss, depression, or anxiety don’t often get the support they need.

Unlike an illness, surgery or politically correct diagnosis, grief, loss, depression/anxiety and mourning are a lot more slippery to deal with.  Not everyone loves the holidays, as a matter of fact, it can be a season of profound lonliness.

You don’t have to bake anything, make anything, buy a card or a gift to be present. You just have to be present. Allow yourself the freedom to do nothing. Yes, that’s right  do nothing. Ok, you can make them a cup of tea or fluff a pillow if necessary, whatever you do,  just try to empathize.

Empathy is not sympathy, and I’m not your fifth grade English teacher, so go look that up if you must.

Empathizing is accepting another person’s emotional reaction to what they are experiencing. You may not experience the events in the same way, or with the same emotions. That doesn’t matter.

What matters is that you listen. You don’t have to agree or disagree, you don’t have to problem solve or make a plan.

If you can be truly present for someone who needs you this holiday season, you will know the true spirit of Christmas, and the deep satisfaction that comes from  friendship.

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