This year, I wasn’t very present online. I needed some space to breathe, sit with my thoughts and feelings, and handle some life changes. Nonetheless, my mind and heart were still moving forward, just at a calmer pace. Looking back, I realize two very important skills that became a bit more natural to me: empathizing and listening.
I am, by default, a person who thrives in clear boundaries. I like to know what I am responsible for and what you are responsible for. Once I know the markings, it is easy to act without guilt or burdens. I am free to do and hence, continue to establish my position as a doer, which in my case also camouflages as a problem-solver. Can we do something about it? Then let’s. If not, let’s work on accepting the reality and growing through it. I always want to keep going.
People would come to me with an issue and in obvious discomfort or pain, and I would immediately try to fix it. Not only would I try to come up with a solution, but I would also emit my opinion and at times get emotionally involved on something completely unrelated to me. Enter Karla now turning into a problem, because the purpose was not for me to solve but to listen. Now, most times I am told, “hey, I just need an ear,” and that is all that I lend. Yet, even if I am not told that, I try to mostly listen.
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to angerJames 1: 19
Whenever friends have reached out during a rough time, in the midst of it all, I have tried to just offer support; listen and encourage kindness, but not hint on specific actions. I for sure don’t want to be held responsible, but I also recognize that it is not my place. My place is to sit with them in the hole they are in. This is empathy.
Through highs and lows, putting myself in other people’s shoes is what connects me to others as a person, and at a deeper level as a friend. Coming in with a blank canvas and not with my preconceived notions has allowed me to understand the situation better and say, “I see you.” Feeling what they feel and acknowledging their feelings is being there for them. I don’t always agree with the reactions and my judgment isn’t clouded, but I am more equipped to support than when my self is placed before the situation.
In my space, I only have control over myself, and at times, not even. Those around me need my support and presence before my thoughts. What I am to do is be there and try my best to be a light. I listen, and I empathize to show that I care, and that I try to care the best way possible.