Whether you are an employee, a self-employed entrepreneur, or run a company with a team of employees, there is a clear standout obstacle to success. This obstacle causes stagnation. It causes self-doubt and hesitation. It is at the heart of distraction and falling behind on your goals. It can create overwhelm that leads to frustration, escapism, and lack of achievement. It can be the thing that keeps you from your hopes and dreams.
At the same time, this same obstacle is also an incredible gift. It makes life far more meaningful. It deepens our connections and relationships with people, places, and events. It increases our intuitive knowing. And, it adds richness to life that otherwise would be impossible without it. It can also be the thing that connects you with your hopes and dreams!
What is it?
This beautiful gift and difficult challenge is Empathy. Empathy is our innate connection with each other and with life itself, and yet it is often deeply misunderstood. The deeper symptoms of empathy frequently go unnoticed or are felt but not associated with Empathy.
We all have busy lives. There is no doubt about that. When busyness meets a compassionate, empathic personality, the result is often a struggle. As an author and educator frequently feeling that I have far more ideas than time, I vividly remember hearing a first-time published author reminiscing about his journey. It still echoes with uncomfortable familiarity even now, years later. Maybe you too will relate…
At the release party for his new book, he said, “12 years ago, I decided to become an author. Had I just written 2 pages a day, this party would be for the release of my sixth book. Not my first.”
How many of us have dreams that never seem to get done? If those dreams are so filled with joy and pleasure and possibility, why do they always seem to come last on the “to do” list?
It may sound like an over-simplification, or it may sound like excuses or rationalization, but often the underlying force behind this stagnation is empathy. Empathy is a subtle, yet powerful force of feeling. It pulls us out of ourselves and into what we feel.
We feel the desires, expectations, intentions, judgments, and bias of others, and our “feeling” nature wants to live up to those external pressures. We get pulled by the next “shiny object”. We feel obligated to contend with the latest crisis, except one crisis is always followed by another. It seems like we are a crisis magnet!
Now that I’ve said all that, let me be a little more complete… a little more correct.
Empathy itself is not the problem. The problem is our relationship to our empathic feelings.
So what can we do? We can change our relationship with our empathy. We can make a decision about what is important, and then do something about it.
In any area of your life, you can turn the tables on your empathic tendencies. The key is to commit. The key is to “decide”.
The origins of the word “decide” means “to cut off” all other possibilities. It means to make your choice the only possibility, and the only reality you will accept.
More simply, if you want to break the cycle of distraction and failure, the essential act is to choose a goal and just complete it! Dedicate time. Make it the priority, and go for it. In fact, simply moving forward on your vision will start soothing the drives coming from within you.
When distractions come up, choose when you will handle them. In most cases, you really don’t have to drop everything. When crises arise, be conscious of their priority. Pretty soon, the number of distractions and crises start to decrease, and as a result, we have established our position as the driving force behind our life… not the Pavlovian reactor to life.
Schedule into your day time to handle those issues, and then, have the integrity to make sure you handle them when you promise. The mind is a powerful thing. If you build a relationship of trust with your mind, it will know when to bring up issues and when not to. It will know that it can trust that you are paying attention, and it will have confidence that its needs will be handled as well. If trust is built, the mind’s screams for attention will grow less and less.
If you want to know more about Empathy, all the ways it affects your life, and how to master it, consider attending my upcoming one-day workshop, Empathy Burnout: Survival Training for Compassionate People.
Details can be found here:
Nike had it right… Stop dreaming, stop planning, stop wishing, stop waiting for the right time, and Just Do It.