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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: Oh Honey Baby (Empathy First....)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Oh Honey Baby (Empathy First....)

Sometimes in here in my office (and out there too) folks will say to me "I know I'm just venting" or "I know I'm going on and on."  And I am given to wondering why that seems not okay.  Because there is something so vital to it.  To the venting, to saying everything and anything and letting the words come out so that they don't stay in and travel around our heart, mind, psyche, body like little pebbles bumping around inside of us causing us hurt and harm and unnamable bad feelings. 

It's not that venting and talking and saying everything is all there has to be.  It's so good to put things into words - to help us slow down, to tame possibly damaging impulsivity, to give us relief.  Venting is often an end unto itself.  But it's also a means.  It often leads to new ideas, better feelings, clearing the way toward them like clearing overgrown vines from a path so that we can  see our way forward.

But one of the best parts of venting, I think, is being - feeling - understood by the listener.  A good friend of mine, who is a great empathic listener often says to me, when I call her and talk to her good ears, "oh honey baby!"  I don't hear it as condescending, or patronizing, or pathetic, rather I hear it as so very loving.  In fact, sometimes, I call her and say, "Hey, could I let go of something for a few minutes and could you do your 'oh honey baby' thing?"   And she does.  I no longer mind asking her to do it (it's nice when someone anticipates your needs, but sometimes we have to ask). 

And after she is done with her good loving empathy, she often will ask me if I'd like some feedback.  And usually I would.  And after a good dose of  'oh honey baby' I've either come to some new level of understanding myself of what I need to do, what my part is, and what the next small right step is, or I am  pretty open to hearing what her opinion is. 

It's not a new idea, but somehow it gets lost when we are hurt, hurting, angry, full of resentment, or feeling deprived.  Venting and empathic listening go such a long way.... with our selves, our partners, children, friends.  And by doing it, we teach it.  It usually comes back around for us too.  And we are dissolving the pebbles inside of us and clearing the overgrown vines out of the path to a better place for all of us.

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