Today’s Word: ‘Dwell’ as in… we get twisted into emotional knots avoiding the reality of pain when the most human thing we can do is just dwell in it.
In 2010, Brene’ Brown presented a TED Talk entitled “The Power of Vulnerability.” It’s safe to say that one TED-Talk launched a thousand different conversations (okay, millions!) around the planet on the difference between empathy and sympathy. To date, there are over 13 million views of Brene’ Brown’s powerful talk.
Sympathy says, ‘I see your pain. Want a sandwich?’
Empathy says, ‘I feel your pain, I’m here with you. Sandwiches can wait. In fact, right now, search for “Brene Brown Empathy Video” or click the link above and watch it.
Go ahead, watch that now. It’s that good. I’ll wait.
In some recent conversations about our general disdain for and discomfort with entering into one another’s pain, we identified some choices: We try to “fix it,” “fight it,” or “flee it.”
First, we try to “fix” the pain. We often do this is by trying to cover it up, pretending it’s not there, hiding it. It’s like using a Band-Aid which is a quick and temporary solution to a problem which calls for more in-depth caring and problem-solving. When we try to “fix” pain, we never get close to the heart of it, or even understand it.
Second, we try to fight pain. If pain hurts us—which is by nature what it does, we’re naturally conditioned to fight against it. But fighting pain always takes an enormous amount of energy. It actually takes less energy to simply be in it; to dwell in it!
Third, we try to flee from pain. Someone says, “I can’t talk with so-and-so about their loss. I’ll cry. So I’m not going to try.”
But sitting with someone who’s in pain, and sharing tears with them is one of the most human things we can do! Pain has so much to teach us if we’ll just let it. We get twisted into emotional knots avoiding the reality of pain when the most human thing we can do is just dwell in it.