Empathy, Vulnerability, Validation & Risk Classroom
Empathy is the ability to put oneself “in another’s shoes” and feel the emotional experience the person is having. It means entirely dropping self and being present for the other person. Empathizing does not mean I agree with their choices; rather, it means I understand, appreciate and experience their experience. Empathy requires both people in the relationship to be vulnerable. As I empathize with another person, I will naturally validate them.
Vulnerability is the act of exposing oneself emotionally; it means being transparent and open to inspection by yourself and others who are safe. When I am vulnerable, I am unguarded, defenseless and truthful. I do not keep back my secrets. By being vulnerable, we invite validation and empathy. Vulnerability is vitally important in the process of healing any and all emotional and spiritual wounds. We must be selective and choose individuals to be vulnerable with, who will honor and respect and validate us, and not invalidate, shame or seek to harm us.
Validating is the act of confirming to another person that they have worth, value and importance, and that their experiences and perceptions are valid. When I validate, I engage in an act of empathy and feel and understand how the experience affected the person emotionally. I then communicate to them (whether or not I agree with their choices and outcomes) that their storyline makes sense.
In every relationship, we take risks. As we develop an intimate relationship, we take emotional risks with the other person. As we both respond appropriately and in trustworthy (honest & responsible) manners, the emotional risks bring about closeness. Risking in healthy ways also means being attentive to violations of trust.
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