As 2020 brings us deeper and asks us to push forward, work hard, plan ahead and fucking make our dreams come true…
I am called to talk about empathy
and how it can be a disservice to what 2020 asks of us.
I am called to unpack and examine the danger in too much empathy
and not enough accountability.
As a coach, I am called to go deeper than merely empathizing.
Not only am I to understand and feel into, but I am to hold the integrity
of a discrete container, and through this container,
I am to guide my clients to transformation.
There is a point where transformation can be drowned by
an over saturation of empathy.
While this container of empathy is where transformation happens,
transformation is alchemy and alchemy cannot take place when
there is only one ingredient in the container.
Courage, commitment and change cannot sprout… much less grow, when the container is overly saturated in empathy. There may be a lot of expression, witnessing, unloading and connection, but no movement. The movement happens when the client is held accountable for how they go forward.
The reason I brought up empathy being key inside the walls of my practice
was to illuminate that most days of the week I see opportunities
for people to grow and if I chose only to empathize...
I wouldn’t be doing my job.
Now, here is the thing…
Empathy is KEY in life and in every day interactions as well.
THIS is the realm of empathy that I want to talk about today. The realm of friends, family, coworkers... the realm of everyday life.
Empathy in life as a whole. Empathy as a way of being.
And… how it has strong potential to disempower others.
I cannot remember a time in my life where others did not come to me for
support, guidance or to turn my sound board on.
I have always done it with an open and willing heart…
and afterward, I have always spoke from a place of integrity.
I’ve always asked my loved ones what they were going to do about their situation, how they planned to avoid a pattern starting or (more commonly)
how they intended to finally break the pattern.
I found at an early age that if I simply empathized time and time again,
that the other person not only stayed in the pattern,
but the pattern increasingly became worse.
This got particularly tricky when dealing with chronic complainers,
because not only was I noticing the patterns worsening, but being empathic, I became fatigued. (Empathy overload.)
While it came naturally to me to over empathize,
it became something that I learned not to do.
I never consciously put a name to it until I started coaching,
but once I realized there is a definite switch in me where the empathy takes back seat and the “initiator” takes the front seat,
I was able to recognize what that unknown was.
Until the unknown is named… we cannot examine it with intention and that “unknown” which needs examining is “empathy saturation”.
As an empath and as a coach… when I decide to EMPOWER another person,
I am also deciding that I am willing to make them feel uncomfortable,
and to some degree, I am okay with upsetting them.
While in that quiet container where they feel connection,
they feel understood and they feel validated, they also feel safe.
Many would rather drown in that “safe” empathy than to be asked what they are going to do about it, because the alternative hurts too bad.
Change is fucking scary and it hurts to unpack material required to execute change.
Here is the thing…
If we, as the party sought out for advice, witnessing, encouragement and companionship (or coaching) simply validate over and over and over,
we fortify the other person deeper into a pattern that is not serving them.
Something DIFFERENT has to happen or
we enter the grey area of what I might call that enabling,
it may even be sabotaging.
We don’t have to agree with someone to feel empathy, we only have to hold space for them and be able to put ourselves in their “emotional shoes”…
or maybe we don’t have to do that, as we have in fact BEEN in their shoes before…
but once that space has been held, then what?
When we erect and uphold those containers, we do it with our HEART SPACE.
We are able to do so because we understand, because our scope of human
nature is vast, because we have been in the same position at one time or another, because we have a super balanced heart chakra…
any one or any combination of these things make us
capable to creating that container of empathy.
Here is where it gets real…
We can go on ahead and drown the people around us in empathy time and time again, as some might prefer it, but we are doing them a great disservice!
Where is the movement? Where is the change? Where is the accountability?
Where is the breaking of the patterns, the taking of responsibility
and the radical honesty?
I am not saying that by taking responsibility for a situation/event we can
prevent heartbreak, sorrow, anger, confusion or bad experiences that
might lead us to seek out conversation with someone we trust.
What I am saying is that when we take responsibility for the way we move forward,
by holding ourselves accountable for the change that needs to happen;
we are able to transform, to grow and to heal!
What I am saying is…
Every single experience offers us a chance to grow.
To up-level. To add definition to our character.
If we are suffering and sitting in a container with someone who empathizes
so much so that they begin to wallow with us,
keeping the frequency levels down, and perpetuating the experience;
we are leaving no room for discovery.
I’d like to say that I’d never propose an evocative question
to a person who is suffering… But I’d be lying.
I’d like to say that the great depth of my empathy leaves no room for proposing change in mindset… but I’d be lying.
I’d like to say that having experienced fucked up things in life,
I’d only want to share stories and show the other person how much they are SEEN… But I’d be lying.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person…
But if I were ONLY able to empathize, I’d not be the fucking kick ass
friend/family member/colleague/coach that I am!
The same applies to all of us!
If we are only sitting in our heart space every damn time someone comes to us with there troubles and suffering... we are sitting by while that person goes deeper into that Shadowland.
There is so much more that needs to happen within the container in order for a person to heal. If they do not learn from the experience, if they do not change their mindset, if they do not unpack the things underneath the surface of their understanding of a situation,
in short time they will be seeking that very same container again.
And so, what good was it the first time (or five) around?
This is where we notice a pattern, and that pattern has them returning to the same container, for the same reason, again and again.
This is where it becomes their choice!
This is where they ARE responsible for what is happening.
There is a such thing as empathy saturation, and it can dangerously turn into enabling, which is a huge disservice to the people around us.
This is not the way I practice within The 6th House or outside of my practice,
in my life. My family, friends, colleagues and social media connections,
they all have me 100% in their corner.
I can and will hold deeply rooted and steadfast containers of empathy for the world, but bet your ass that I am then going to plant the seed that they up-level!
It is about balance.
What would it mean if more people in our world were able to hold steady and sacred space for others while also asking them to transform?
What would it mean for the sister who keeps going back to the abusive husband? What would it mean to the little boy who keeps getting in trouble with his group of friends? What would it mean for the business owner who’s overhead keeps growing, while profits keep dropping; but she is too afraid to change?
What would it mean to the friend who keeps having spiritual breakdowns but he refuses to take responsibility and truly look within for the answers?
This is where I ask you to think about it. This is where I invite you to…
Be honest. Be brave. Be transformed.
Mary Szenasi~Copyright 2020