You are about to walk into the most important meeting of the year. You are presenting to the top dogs of your company. You feel confident. You have come up with the perfect solution to a problem that has been plaguing the company for months. You feel excited and alive. You aren’t nervous at all.
But then you walk into the conference room.
You scan the faces in the room. Bob looks tired. He almost looks like he has been crying. You hope everything is okay at home. Then you see Evelyn. Evelyn looks like she has consumed gallons of coffee. She stabs away on her laptop keyboard. She doesn’t look up. Her face is a frozen frown. Her eyes dart back and forth over an email you imagine feels like a personal attack.
You feel Bob and Evelyn’s energy fill up your body. All of sudden you start to think maybe this isn’t a good day to talk about this… I don’t want to overwhelm Bob. And Evelyn she has been working crazy hours lately. Not to mention, she is in the middle of a nasty divorce. Maybe this isn’t the time to discuss such a radical shift in company policy.
You smile at them apologetically before you even say hello.
The meeting doesn’t go well.
If this is how you think or how you act in certain situations, you may have an empathy problem.
What is empathy? Empathy is the ability to temporarily step out of your experience and step into another person’s experience. You can see things clearly from the perspective of other people.
Don’t get me wrong. Empathy helps us be compassionate giving beings. And we need compassion. Our world NEEDS empathy.
On an individual level, empathy can be an amazing strength and gift that can help you find success in your personal and professional relationships. Empathy can help you find meaning and happiness in your life.
We really can’t live without empathy.
But if you can’t manage your empathy or turn it off, you will become an overloaded sponge. You will absorb every good and bad emotion that you encounter. Your dreams and intentions will be lost in a sea of emotional information you are constantly processing. You will forget what you need, what you feel and what you desire. You will no longer be you.
So, how do you manage your empathy?
First, you have to pay attention to your feelings. You have to drive in your own lane. This can be hard to do. Especially if you are a sensitive soul.
If you think you have tendency of always putting others’ needs before your own, try creating a morning routine. When I say morning routine I don’t mean running to your computer to answer emails and chugging coffee. A morning routine is a simple practice you create.
If working out for an hour makes you feel empowered and ready to take on the day, then start your day off with exercise. If writing in your journal or drawing in a sketchbook gets you in touch with your soul and all that is good in the world, do that in the morning before you enter the office. Or if you love reading then wake up a bit earlier. Take thirty minutes in the morning to sit in your favorite chair, sip tea, and read a book.
These may seem like simple ideas. Or you may be thinking, who has time to read in the morning? I have a job. I have kids to get to school. But I will tell you, these moments of self-reflection, these small changes create meaning in our lives.
Starting your morning off in a way that nourishes your soul is a great form of self-care. It is a great way to take control of your life.
Meditation is such a powerful tool. Take a few minutes daily to sit still with yourself. You can learn so much from your body. Your body is constantly telling you what you need and what is or is not working. But if you don’t listen, if you don’t pause to hear those messages, you will be missing out on the most valuable information you will ever receive.
If you know you are going to have a stressful week or if you are really empathetic meditation could really change how you interact with the world. It could be the best way for you to recharge your soul.
You can also use visualization as a form of meditation. I use this often when I start my day, before I speak on stage or at the end of the day when I am feeling drained.
If you want to start meditating but don’t know how? My friend Kristoffer Carter aka KC can help you get started.
Like I said above, empathy is beautiful gift. Once you learn how to channel it you will be unstoppable.