Why Is Empathy So Counter-Intuitive? (4/6)

What is empathy? What is it not?

Empathy is the way we can feel connected, heard, seen, understood, valued, and accepted for who we are. But Empathy can be counter-intuitive…

Our mirror neurons are our superpower for empathy. Yet they can also betray us! We feel uncomfortable when we feel what others are feeling. Most people will try to repress those feelings, or to change how the other is feeling, in order to feel better. 

A common confusion generated by the English language is our use of the word “feel” without actually expressing a feeling. And the word “need” without actually expressing a need. 

Learn in this episode how society has prevented us from learning how to express Empathy in a satisfying way, and how you can learn this the right way.

Listen in to discover the secret, powerful formula to authentic empathy.

Our free handout is available for download as you listen in: https://relationshipalkemy.com/free-downloads/

Book mentioned: The Art of Empathy by Karla McLaren

Audio Version

Video Version

Hi. Welcome back to our podcast. I’m Jordan Bessaignet, and this is my husband, Olivier Bessaignet. And together we are relationship alchemy.

Right. And so welcome back to our podcast. Podcast and broadcast. You can find us on YouTube, on Facebook and on different podcast apps such as Apple Podcasts, Google Cast, Spotify, etc. So you can listen to us or you can watch the video and have the visuals and some of the things that we’re showing, like the handouts that we’re using. So last time we talked about the number one secret to conscious communication, which is this new paradigm of speaking in feelings. We are so used to talk in stories and strategies.

I feel like I want coffee. That’s not a feeling. That’s a strategy. Maybe the strategy for what? Strategy for comfort. Strategy for more energy. I don’t know. People don’t speak in their truth. They speak in their strategies. I’m feeling like you’re distant from me. This is not a feeling. So that’s why exactly what we’re going to talk about today. It’s not a feeling. It’s an observation and analysis.


But my feeling would be, oh, I’m starting to feel disconnected. Is it because she’s moving? What did I say, moving away? Yeah. Is it because you’re disconnecting from me? So I’m feeling disconnected. What’s going on with you? Are you feeling disconnecting as well? No, I’m busy. Okay. Makes sense. But we’re not used to talk this way. So that’s our practice. Our conscious communication practice is to talk about the deeper layer which is feelings and needs. So the number one secret is to stop speaking in thoughts, analysis and strategies.

Yeah. But with feelings and needs, feelings and needs, how does that sound?

Sounds good to me.

So last time we unpacked that and we gave you the example when we were in the food truck, and she was like, well, we need to stop taking clients. Now. I was like, hell, no. I’m not going to turn any client away or any business away. And so all those are strategies we were trying to impact how we were trying to fulfill to meet underlying needs and how we felt about it. So you felt anxious, agitated?


Irritated, irritated. And I felt protective. Defensive. Right. So today let’s bring our handouts out again, and we’re going to talk about how empathy can be so counterintuitive and why it’s so difficult to access it. Sometimes we go like, you know, this person is so selfish and caught up in their own bullshit that they have no empathy. Is that true? That’s the topic of today.

In case you are new to our podcast, we do have all of our handouts on our website. If you just go to Relationshipalcony. Com and up at the top, there is a tab called Free Downloads. And if you just go ahead and click on it, there’s all sorts of wonderful goodies that you can download and get into, right. That’s where we’re pulling this information from if you’re new.

Yeah. So that’s the handout that we’re looking at. And at the end of the handout, we also distribute this very neat thing, which is our list of feelings and needs.

Universal feelings and needs.

So this one is feelings when our needs are satisfied. Like, I’m feeling appreciated. Thankful, touched, satisfied. Relieved. Right. And then on the other side.

Is feelings when our needs are not satisfied, such as. So this could be. I feel alienated. I feel depressed. I feel heartbroken.

Yeah. Depleted. Burnout, distraught. All right. So I know it might be new. Like, we should learn this in school. I believe this should be mandatory to any education. Right. But we don’t. We don’t have this. So sometimes I just feel upset. Okay. That’s a great start. What’s behind it? I feel upset. Well, then you pull out your sheet of feelings when you’re not satisfied. I feel sets well because I feel what’s? Anguish, heartbroken, lonely, disappointed, discouraged, gloomy. All nice, juicy feelings.

So I highly recommend printing that out and putting it on your fridge in times of need.


It definitely helps out.

And so we have this other spreadsheet about universal needs. So I need cupcake right now. It’s not a need. I don’t know.

I think that’s a need.

So it’s not a need. It’s a strategy to meet a need for hungry. I need sustenance. Or I need comforts. So needs are clarity, stimulations. I need aliveness. I need harmony. Inspiration. I need cooperation, equality, fairness, companionship, harmony. Okay. Universal needs. Which means if you say any of those words in somebody else’s language, like French and French or Dutches or Thailand, or you go to any country in the world and say, I need comfort. I need sustenance. I need harmony. I need fairness. They will understand. It universal.

All right. I need coffee cupcake, or I need you to do dishes. That’s not a need. So I’m so excited. I geek over this thing.

So moving on to the topic that we’re going to be talking about today, we’re going to jump right into where we left off on our last podcast. And so we’re just going to dive into, why is empathy so counterintuitive?

Right. So we have this great thing. Neuroscience tells us that we have those mirror neurons. Right. So we say that person has no empathy. Well, everybody has mirror neurons.

Surprise. Empathy is not something that only a few of us have.

It’s not something we learn.

It’s not something we learn. We’re all hardwired to be empathetic. And we have these beautiful things called neurons that allow us to mimic what other people have going on. So, for example, if you get a baby together with another baby and one baby starts to cry, the other baby will also start to cry because these mirror neurons work in our brains, and they allow us to literally mirror other people. So you can do this with emotions. You can do this with physical. Like, we are a mirror.

Yeah. It’s a really unique tool that humans carry.

Yeah. So it’s a great like, our baby just turned one year old turn one. It still doesn’t know how to speak. So he goes, what does he want? It could be. I have a poopy diaper. It can be. I want strawberries. So just the communication. This is like a conscious communication class. Great. How do you do it with a nonverbal being? Well, we have the mirror neurons, and the parents can tune into what’s going on with the baby. So is the baby upset? Is the baby excited?

Is the baby hungry? And so how did you learn how to do that as a mother?

Well, I would like to say I had great empathy skills before having a baby. I didn’t really need to learn it.


But we’re in the process of teaching him babies sign language. Mike Olivier said he’s pre verbal, so he doesn’t speak yet. And we’re trying to teach him these really basic hand movements. Like all done. He knows what they mean now. But eventually, the hope is that he will copy them back to us and assign meaning to those different hand movements. So, I mean, that’s one way neurons are working right there without even getting into the empathy.

So the baby is wired to mirror us as well. And that taps into core regulation as well. Which means if the baby is going to go, I’m upset. He’s going to start crying and being upset. He doesn’t know why. It’s just because he’s so in tune. No filter. So he’s just so in tune with the parents, which means he’s getting upset if the parents are upset or is co regulating if the parents are calm and grounded.

Yeah. I mean, this is something I can talk about all day because I find it so fascinating that we have this extraordinary tool hardwired into us as a species. And it’s truly because we are not supposed to be separate beings.


And that’s the beauty of mirror neurons. So if you’re mirroring what, in prehistoric times, if there’s a Tiger chasing somebody and you can feel that fear coming off of them, you’re most likely going to start running away from the Tiger, too.

So if somebody feels fear, all the other animals in the pack go like I feel as well. Should I run as well?


Right. So it’s protecting us. It has protected our species so that we’ve survived not only survived, but fried on this planet. So we have it like you said, it’s hard wire. We have empathy whether we want it or not. And that’s a bit of part of the problem.


So those mirror neurons are signaled, they tell us what is going on with the other. All right. Now, here’s the thing.

So we have this great tool that can aid us. And it can also hinder us.


If not used in a proper fashion.

So personally, I hate it. I hate my Mariners, because if Jordan my wife, I’m by myself doing what I love doing my work or whatever. And she walks in the door of the room. I’m in my period and the baby is crying and I’m hungry. Also, I’m going to feel bumped and drained. Like, oh, I feel Yak inside. Right?

True story.

It can happen sometimes. And so for no reason, because nothing is happening with me. Also, I feel terrible. And it’s a signal. I mean, it’s supposed conscious communication is supposed to be a signal to tell me why something is going on that I need to address. But if I’m not conscious, I’m going to either try to run away from it like, oh, I don’t like it. Does that come from you? I don’t like you. So I’m going to buy or like, this is terrible.

You need to change this. You need to change the vibe.

So this is where they can work against us. So we feel uncomfortable when we feel what others are feeling. Sometimes we can feel uncomfortable, right? Most people will try to repress those feelings or to change how the other is feeling in order for themselves to feel better.

And I think that phrase right there is in my experience what a lot of people end up doing, especially in the more conscious community. There’s this idea, like, no bad vibes. You’re acting low vibrational right now. Those are low vibration feelings. And, yeah, this is such an interesting thought and such an interesting mindset because it’s really poisonous.

In my opinion, it is to bypass. So it’s disconnecting.


And so something is happening in them that they’re not dealing with. They are pulling those concepts and rules that if you’re not feeling, if you’re not uplifted and uplifting others, something’s wrong with you. So you don’t belong to our group anymore. So it’s outing.

Yeah. Or they go into changing how the other is feeling. So that way they can feel better.

So two things. I just remember this person who came to one of our workshop and he was saying, Well, I’m struggling because when there’s something in my relationship and I don’t feel good, I feel fear and I feel anxiety and I feel drained. I feel sad. I want to talk to my best friend, my best buddy, two guys. And when I do that, he disappears like he goes to me. And I feel like, even more lonely, even more like the band. And use that word. I feel abandoned by himself with this desperation.

What does it mean? Well, this guy is an asshole. His friend is not a good friend. Asshole. It’s not the empathy. He’s selfish. Probably. He’s very empathetic. It feels exactly what’s happening with the person who is sharing that with us. He’s like, oh, this is terrible. I can deal with my own. So I need to run away. So it’s not that they’re a bad person. It’s just that they don’t know how to process it, deal with it and then stay connected even through the challenging times, which is exactly what intimacy is all about.

Yeah. Definitely. So people who call themselves empath.

So that’s the second thing. First thing, that person is not in the conscious community. They’re not conscious community. They’re mainstream. And so they don’t know how to deal with it. So they run away now for the people who are in the conscious group.

I’m sure we have all heard people say, I’m an empath.


Personally, I hate that phrase. I think it’s so frustrating when I hear that.

Well, it means you’re not.


Some people are not.

Yeah. It means that others are not empaths. But this person is an empath.


And in my experience, these people tend to be the worst at empathy.

Isn’t it amazing?

Yeah. And it’s because connecting with others feelings can be overwhelming and debilitating to them. To them. I’ve personally gone through this phase where everyone just was too much for me, and I felt everything that everyone feels. And that’s great.

You mean their shit was a joyful thing?

Yeah. I wasn’t feeling like everyone’s joy. It’s like everyone’s sorrow, and it’s like the human condition. The human experience is too much. But that was a lot. I had to learn boundaries, and I had to learn how to consciously be empathetic.

Which means knowing how to deal with yourself first.


Right. And have empathy for yourself. That’s exactly what you said in the last episode. First step of empathy is to have empathy for yourself. Otherwise, it’s really hard to have empathy for anybody else.


So those who tend we don’t want to point fingers to anybody. But I’m still wrestling with my ex from four years ago was such an empath, and it was really difficult to be in a relationship with her because she had this amazing superpower to trace and know what was happening in other people, such as me. Intimate relationship.


Are you feeling sorrow right now?


Yeah, I do. At first it looked amazing. And then she was like, Well, you’re feeling depressed right now, right? No, not exactly. I’m feeling struggling with my business or things sad, but I’m not really feeling depressed. And she would think that she would tell me she knows better what’s happening in me than myself. That was irritating because I don’t want anybody to tell me who I am or what to do. I was like, Wait, you’re stealing myself agency. You’re talking for me. You’re telling me who I am for me.

That’s not okay. That’s actually not okay. But they tend to believe it’s a protective mechanism that they know better about what’s going on with somebody else. With you. An intimate relationship than you do for yourself. And I find it very self righteous.

Yeah. It definitely gets into that self righteous. And I’ve personally gone through this period in my life as well. I remember very particularly. I was with a friend, and we were going to drive to Sacramento, and we invited another friend with us. And that friend had canceled last minute, and my friend was on the phone, and I saw something flash across her face, and I asked her, it’s like, Are you okay? And at this point in my life, the friends that I had around me were not the best at discussing their feelings.

And so she was like, no, I’m fine. And I was like, okay, because I feel like you might be feeling a little let down, and we ended up getting to a really big fight, actually, because once again, nobody wants to be told how they’re feeling.

Well, it could be helpful, but when it’s like, oh, I know what’s happening with you. It’s not connecting. I mean, I can feel it when it’s a defense mechanism that’s not connecting.

Yeah, it was just not done in a very because it could be.

Wow, I’m so confused. If you have anything for me, like, please help me. And that would be okay. That’s an agreement. But if it’s like, no, I’m fine. Which means don’t get in right now. I’m trying to process my shit, and I have no idea what’s going on. I’m confused. So I need some space. Basically, that’s why it means you got to translate. It’s complicated, but there will be a translation.

Yeah. At the time, I definitely did not have very good communication skills. And I was like, no, we need to talk about your feelings right now. And it was just the hot mess, but got to love the past versions of ourselves. So I also have personal experience with that one.

Okay. So I hope it resonates with you. And so to talk more about what empathy is now, because for me, it’s really important to have distinctions, to learn a topic. We want to communicate better, to learn that topic. What does it mean? What is it? What is it not if I know what it’s not, it helps me to understand what it is. So I can catch myself that’s kind of what we are offering as a practice here. So what is not empathy is analysis or diagnosis. So let’s take an example of analysis feeling like you have a lot of shadow to process.

I’m feeling like your Daddy wound is regaining into our intimacy right now, right. So that’s not a feeling.

First of all, that’s not a feeling.

It’s a diagnosis.

It’s a diagnosis. And what’s really interesting. I think a workshop that we had, one of the women came up with an example from her life, and her example was literally the greatest example. And she was explaining that she is a teacher. She’s a PE teacher. And another teacher had sent her an email saying, I need the locker room to be opened. Xyz at this time. And because she was already in class. She didn’t read the email. And so this teacher came into the gym and started yelling at her in front of all of the students.

Like, Why didn’t you open the locker room? Like I told you, and it’s really interesting because this woman, when she was explaining it, the first thing she did was analyze the other.


And I think this is really common.

She has problem in her relationship, and she was doing a good job in her mind, being like, Zen and being like, okay, I can hold this. Well, she’s frustrated in our life because our partner or whatever, she has issues, and it’s okay. It’s okay.

Yeah. I think she was going through health issues or something. She’s probably having a bad time because something about her health is off.

So it sounded like empathy.

It sounds like empathy. That’s the thing. It sounds like, oh, I’m being empathetic. This person is having a hard time. Therefore, they can yell at me, and I’m going to justify the way they’re treating me because of these past circumstances that this person has or imagining it’s like.

Processing it for them, right? Yeah. Instead of being curious.

Yeah. And I think this really is a common problem in our society. This idea that we are being empathetic because we’re analyzing or diagnosing somebody. She’s just bipolar or she’s just having a hard time, and it’s actually not empathetic. No, it’s the opposite of empathy, actually.

Well, the feeling that you can trace inside of you is how open am I to this person, which means, can I be vulnerable, for example, with this person? And when we asked the participant, she was like, oh, hell, no. This is not safe.


Right. And then the whole conversation has turned into like, well, if you’re analysing or diagnosing the other, it’s really hard to be actually empathetic with them. Have empathy for them or with them, because the first step is to have empathy for yourself.


I’m on the other end of receiving yelling. I feel shame in front of my students. I feel cornered. I feel trapped. I feel angry. Let’s take it up. I feel confused. Yeah.

I remember she said she felt embarrassed.

Embarrassed. Perfect. Shame. Yeah. Modified self conscious, maybe irritated. All right. So that helps use that sheet and still helps what is really going on? Well, this is really going on. I feel embarrassed. I feel frustrated. I feel angry. Right. So first, self empathy before analysis or diagnosis of the other and analysis and diagnosis can be helpful. Well, they can be right.

They can be right. And they can be helpful. But when someone’s trying to have a conversation with you, now is not the time to be like, you’re just bipolar. Do not do that. That is not going to help you in any type of way.

It depends what you want as an outcome from the conversation. Do you want more connection, or do you want to be right? Okay. So everything is happening inside of us at the same time, and we get to choose what are the first words that come out of our mouth? Okay. So it’s either. Wow, your rehab communication issues, you know, which is analysis. And so they’re gonna either defend or submit. I’m so sorry. I really want to be your friend or. No.

No, I don’t.

Not at all. It’s your problem.

I’m a great communicator.

I took years on communication. Yeah, I’m a master of it. How do they criticize me? So either they’re going to defend or they’re going to have to submit depending on so it’s power struggle. It turns into a power struggle. Being right turns into a power struggle. So using analysis and diagnosis has a great chance to turn into a power struggle.


But instead of analysis, if you can have a question or empathy or feelings or needs, right the number one secret, right. How are you feeling about it? What do you need? Well, I don’t know. I’m feeling upset. I’m feeling like you’re not listening to me. Analysis?

Yeah. We’re definitely going to go over for you a little bit later to help us get into more of an empathetic state.

I don’t know if I have the time to go. Maybe next episode. So first analysis and diagnosis. I hope you sort of start to get it now.

So fixing which is a strategy or a suggestive action.

Yeah. So this especially in the west and especially in America, we’re so action oriented that we want to fix everything.


Yeah. Well, why don’t you close the locker yourself?

Or another example is strategies tend to bypass the feelings.

We can talk about. Point number three as well. Utility, right. Which is minimizing, distracting or denial of emotion. So you don’t need to feel that bad about this, right?

Or back with this strategy is bypassing the feelings and the emotions. And using this example that the woman with the locker room, I think what she did was she was planning on sending her an email saying, don’t do that again. And was there for bypassing her own feelings of hey, when he yelled at me in front of all of the students, I felt embarrassed.


Please don’t do that again. Yeah. She skipped the feelings agent right into that. Don’t do that again.

Yeah. So skipping our feelings and needs and being curious about the others feelings and needs is a bypass. Okay. And so we go into all those eight. I’m sure there’s more, but I wrote eight down. All those strategies that we think are empathy is the bypass.

So the next one would be running away or shutting down, which is abandonment.

So are we clear on that number three, which is like minimizing, distracting or denying the baby is crying. It’s like you’re good. Don’t feel bad. Or the partner is like coming back from work like my boss. No, it’s like, I don’t want to hear about it.

Yeah. Or I’m coming in and I’m on my period, and the baby has been screaming for 2 hours, and you tell me it’s okay. Don’t feel that bad about it. He’s just a baby.


Which, by the way, he would never do that.

Maybe I did. Nobody needs to be perfect. Yeah. Don’t feel bad about this or it’s not that bad. Or you don’t need to feel. Okay. Well, you want chocolates? Okay. That’s a bypass as well.

Yeah. It’s jumping right into strategy.

Yeah. It’s a strategy to bypass the feeling. Like, let’s not focus on that. You feel terrible. Let’s not focus on that. Because then we’re just going to dig into the shit and nobody wants that, right. But unfortunately, it’s disconnecting us from our truth in the moment. Like, imagine somebody saying, I just got fired. I just had a miscarriage. My partner is talking about leaving me. How do you react to that? Well, it’s not bad. It’ll come around. You guys are going to fix it. Okay. Why don’t you go see a therapist or I know this great podcast.

You want to, like, fixing strategy to fix it minimizing, right. I think it’s clear running away.

Yeah. So running away or shutting down abandonment.

Yeah. So it’s the example of the person we said before. Like, I’m feeling distressed. I want to talk to my friend, my best friend. He’s like, nowhere to be found.


So that would be running away or shutting down or it’s like, but I feel this way. I’m like, yeah, well, you see this thing on Instagram, like, oh, math is trying to cause. Yeah. So distraction, abandonment, all those strategies to not address. It not empathy.

So the next one would be judgments, which is right. Wrong, blame, shame, punishment, reward. And I can’t think of anything worse than opening up to someone and telling them how you feel and they judge you for that. Or they blame you or shame you. And that’s the difference when you’re vulnerable with somebody and then they come back with that, that really hurts.

Now, maybe your judgment is right. Maybe some of your analysis and diagnosis could be useful, but if it’s the first thing that comes out of your mouth, it’s going to be like, I was vulnerable. And now I don’t want to be. So first empathy first, it’s like, wow, how are you feeling about that? I imagine that must feel really distressing, right. Are you feeling hurt right now with that? And then I was vulnerable and was received. I’ve been hurt, and I feel connected. Can I share thought with you?


So asking for permission.

I always ask for permission before you share any thoughts. Diagnosis, analysis, judgments.

I cannot help noticing when you talk about your boyfriend and you just talked about your father just five minutes ago. How it sounds so similar. Right. So this would be an analysis trying to fix it. If it’s right, wrong would be that person might not be right for you. Why always choosing the wrong person for you? It’s like, what’s your deal? What’s your problem? Can you get your shit together? Yeah, that could be maybe useful later. I’m trying to boost you up, but if we start with that, the person is not going to feel received.

And that’s not empathy. So empathy is first really understanding the reality of the other person, right or our own.

The next one is one of my favorites. Talking about yourself or topping their story with a better one of yours.

Yeah. Well, if you knew what happened to me.

Yeah. I mean, my dad does this all the time. Well, I remember being young and complaining about walking to the bus stop. Oh, it’s dark. I have to walk a mile. It takes, like, 20 minutes to walk, and my backpack is heavy, and I just don’t want to walk to the bus stop. Can you take me?


And I remember my dad telling me, well, when I was your age, I had to walk 5 miles uphill in the snow and it’s like, okay, well, thanks. Thanks. Clearly, your life is way worse than mine, and I should just be grateful for walking to the bus stop without snow.

Yeah. Okay. You just got fired from work, but I’ve been without work for six months. My reality is so much worse than yours or my sister. My mother told me the story that’s going to charm the other one.

Yeah. And also, too, I think something that important is about talking about yourself or topping their story. I have noticed that when I’m not able to hold space for somebody because I just have too much going on in my life, that’s when I tend to bring my story into things like, I’m going through this hard time. And so I’ll just tell somebody, hey, I can’t hold space for you right now.


And that kind of stops the problem before it even starts.

Yeah. I mean, it’s such a great point because we all want so desperately to be seen and heard. Okay. And if somebody is coming in and saying, like, Well, I want to be seen and heard. That’s not what they’re saying. They’re saying. My boss at work, you know what they did to me? I was like, okay, now I have to hold space for you. But I have too much going on for myself because I want so there’s proculate to being seen and heard first. And so we’re talking about friends, which is like, kind of the easy layer.

And then there’s relationships, which is, I’m so upset in this relationship because I need this. I’m tired, I’m exhausted. I need space. I need help. I need support. And it comes out like, oh, man, why are you never doing the dishes? Right. So the other goes, wow, I’m not seeing, but I’ve swept the floor. So we go into this. Actually, it’s next one number seven, which is this defensiveness defensiveness because we want to be seen so much. That me first, me first. So the passiveness. Well, especially if the way we’re trying to receive empathy or give empathy.

I mean, the communication style around empathy is not using financial needs, which is not using empathy, but using analysis, judgments and all that fixing. I don’t know what example to take, but if you’re grumpy, you have your periods or whatever you’re like. Well, kitchen is dirty again, right? Either I can do things like, hey, baby, how are you feeling? Well, I’m feeling drained right now, and I’m feeling overwhelmed with the clutter in the house. Oh, okay, I get it. But if I don’t translate because I’m overwhelmed with some things, like, well, why don’t you do something about it?

Well, actually, yesterday defensiveness. Okay.

Yeah. I mean, defensiveness really takes away from connection. I feel like when you’re defensive, you’re literally putting up a wall. Totally because you’re defending what’s behind the wall. And so if everyone has their walls up, how is anyone connecting? They’re not getting out of defensiveness or just being really mindful again. Translation. And I think you do this so wonderfully in our relationship where sometimes it irritates me that you will not succumb to the first thing I say. You’re like, what’s actually going on here. It usually just takes that one little question.

Actually, what’s going on is trauma from fifth grade is replaying in my head right now.

Truth is, in the moment, my mirror neurons are like, basic back and like, oh, you want to give me the baby?

He’s back. I mean, once again.

I didn’t mean our baby. I mean, like, the emotional baby, the hot potato. I received the hot potato. No.

Yeah. I mean, I don’t remember.

So. Yeah, most of the time I try to translate, but sometimes it’s really hard. Catch yourself.

Catch yourself. Yeah.

So it’s okay to be messy. And it’s okay to start with defensiveness. Like, well, you know what? I cleaned the floor yesterday. So what? Okay, well, that was defensive. Yeah. Okay, hold on. Come back. What is really going on? What do you mean by that? That you hate that the kitchen is cluttered. It’s like if she walks in and it’s like, I can’t stand that being so cluttered again, I can be defensive and go, okay, that was defensive. Come back.

Yeah. It’s definitely a skill, like a muscle that you have to work out and train and flex. But, I mean, once you get this down when other people are upset and you can just really see what they’re going through and you don’t take it personally, even though it comes out sometimes in really personal ways.

I’m trying to remember Caroline Maclaren ask for me to do it at the same time. Yeah. The language of emotional. Let me show you that over here. She has a book. So Carla McLaren Art of Empathy. I love her book, The Art of Empathy, a training course in Life’s Most Essential skill. What about that for her? Empathy and last episode in this episode are centered around empathy. Empathy is the life’s most essential skill. That’s how she puts it. So it requires training. And it requires retraining from the terrible training that we got because we didn’t get this skill when we were 5678.

But the good thing is, it’s never too late to learn in the University of Life.

Exactly. So let’s continue and finish up with what empathy is not. So when we use feelings and needs, if we use any of those structures, they’re actually not feelings. So a common confusion generated by the English language is our use of the word feel. The word the feeling words without actually expressing feelings, those are not expressions of actual feelings. The word feel would be more accurately replaced by think.


We want conscious communication. What’s the goal? It’s to be more authentic, therefore more accurate in our expression of ourselves.

So words such as that like, as if I feel that you should know better or I feel like a failure.

Yes. It’s that like as if I feel that I feel like I feel as if I feel like, okay.

Yeah. I mean, that’s when I say a lot personally. Well, I feel like what’s going on right now is not actually the whole story. And going back to what you said earlier feel would be more accurately replaced by things, I guess. Yeah. And this is something I’m trying to do in my life because I have the training of just saying, well, I feel like.

Yeah, we will say that everybody says that in the English language. Yes.

It’s a virus.

I feel like you didn’t do the dishes today.

Yeah. I feel like you’re not being completely honest.

Yeah. Right. So it’s like, more like I think you’re not completely honest with me. And I feel defensive. I feel suspicious.

So something else that would couple with this are pronouns. I U he she they it. So I feel I am constantly on call or I feel it is useless.

Yeah. So if we replace it by sync or I guess, for example, I feel I’m constantly on call. It’s like, wow, I’m on call almost all day, and I feel really drained right now about it. So the feeling would be I feel drained. The feelings are from the spreadsheets, and I remind you that they are at the end of the document. So if you go first, call all the way down, you can print it up. And here they are, so not satisfied. So I feel like I’m on call all the time would be I feel edgy, irritable, overwhelmed, stressed out, exhausted, exhausted.

I feel exasperated, frustrated, irritated. I feel repulsed by this job now. I don’t know.

Yes. Once again, use your feelings sheet if you are blanking on how you might be feeling in that moment, and I promise you, there’s going to be so many words on there that you will be able to find one that you connect with in that moment.

So it’s hard to be perfect right away. It’s impossible to be perfect right away. So every time that somebody else says, I feel that you, I feel like I feel, I feel you. I translate in my head. I recognize that. And so if you want to be a jerk or a non binding communication Nazi, you can say I just got you. You didn’t use a real feeling word.

Yeah, and that person is going to never talk to you again, because that is not very connecting.

So our advice is, don’t change the way you talk, but cut yourself.

Or my favorite that Marshall Rosenberg says is put your draft ears on, right. And this drafts have the largest heart of any land animal. So you’re basically listening with a really big heart and put your draft ears on. And you’re basically translating with your nonviolent communication. Google has Google translator. This is nonviolent communication translator.

So the first step is to recognize what is not a feeling. Okay, I feel like I’m a failure. Well, okay, that’s not a feeling. So I don’t know what the feeling is, but that was not a feeling. Okay? Her boss is being abusive right now. Okay, I hear that. So you’re feeling scared, so you recognize it’s not feeling. And you don’t need to do anything about it yet, but you notice more. That’s what it means. And so the last one is names or nouns referring to people.

I feel Emmy has been pre responsible, or I feel my boss is being manipulative. Okay, so I feel they right. I feel he or I feel Amy, my boss. Okay. So it’s not a feeling, but something is going on. There’s an upset, there’s a trigger, there’s something underneath it. So if we respond to that story, I feel like my boss is being manipulative. Oh, yeah, me, too. He tried with me as well. I don’t believe that. I know him well, he’s a friend. I don’t believe that.

Oh, yeah. Did we talk about taking sides? We did. We did. Okay. Taking sides is the last one. If you do that with a family and a member, it’s like, oh, my sister or your sister is being remative with me right now. Oh, I know. If you knew how much she’s very manipulative with me. She’s a very manipulative person. Okay. What’s going to happen when they make it up? And then the sister learns about how you’ve been talking about her. I’m alert. And sticking side is not empathy.

I know it’s temporary.

Yeah, it’s a really easy path to choose in the moment. Like, oh, that guy is such an asshole for treating you that way. Yeah, but really, it’s going to come around in the long run.

If there was no feelings and needs in the conversation, it was not empathy. Okay. So here I feel is used to express an uncertain thoughts or intriguing, or they’re trying to diagnose the situation. The feeling may be implied, but they are not expressed. It’s not authentic. It’s not direct. Okay. To be authentic and accurate, the words I feel could be replaced or should be replaced with. I tend to think that or I guess I tend to think that my boss is being manipulative.

Oh, yeah. Just as simple, I think.

Yeah. I think my boss is being manipulative right now. Well, what makes you think that? Well, he retains information from me. Okay, so we’re still not in empathy. We’re still in analysis, and we’re still fixing things. But if I go, okay. So how do you feel about it? Well, I feel confused and I feel protective. Okay, so let’s wrap this up. So not an actual need as well. What is not an actual need?

Yeah. I mean, we briefly touched on this with the cupcake. Needing a cupcake is not an actual need. And the same goes for the word need. And it’s common use to express a want. Remember to differentiate your needs and your wants. So an I want expresses a strategy and therefore reveals the thought. So, for example, I need chocolate cake is a want, and it’s a strategy to fulfill a need for comfort. And when I was pregnant, I’m sure you remember I said this all the time. I need chocolate cake, but I hate being pregnant, and I am really suffering right now.

And the chocolate cake will provide me comfort in this time where I don’t feel that good.

Yeah. Beautiful.


So the same way we were replacing I feel with, I think just replace I need with I want and you’re allowed to want things. But saying I need chocolate cake implies that if I don’t reassert my wants, it will be denied. So I need to transform it from want to need because it’s harder to deny somebody’s needs than their wants. Make sense.

Yeah. It definitely makes sense. Or you just really need chocolate cake in that one. I don’t know. I’m still on the fence about that one.

So another one is I need you to XYZ. I need you to empty the dishwasher. I need you to stop crying. It’s not a need. It’s a strategy because I’m trying to fix the situation. My mirror neurons are crying around and saying like, this needs to stop because it feels terrible instead of connecting to the things like, wow, this feels terrible. Truth, authenticity, acknowledging what is so.

I hope today’s podcast was really insightful on what empathy is not.

So that’s why we said what empathy is, right.

So if you want to go back and listen to that podcast again, maybe you’ll have more clarity after hearing what empathy is not because when you hear it?

What it is. People go like, oh, Dah, I get it. And then in the next conversation, it doesn’t work. It doesn’t come out like I thought this was easy, and I can’t do it. What’s going on? This is not working. This is bullshit. It’s not for me.

Well, thank you guys for listening to our podcast.

So, yeah, we’re talking about intimacy, right? We’re on this journey and we board that boat to go to the intimacy island. And so first we talked about the territory, what it is, what is not intimacy, what we want, what we do not want. Second step is communication. And here we are. We need a third episode to talk about this. Just the communication. And the last one is going to be custom in cultures and how we act, how we interact in an intimate space. We still need another episode to talk about communication.

And so next time, we’re going to give you formats formulas to help you train in this new language. So instead of saying, I need you to stop crying or like you’re saying, I need to stop taking orders like, well, that’s not a need. That’s a strategy. What’s going on? So how do you refill right now? And she could say, well, what’s important to me is instead of using this non conscious communication, so we’re going to give you formats and exercises to do better to start training that new muscle.

All right, well, we will also link what is it? Clarence McLaren’s book in the show notes that way, if this is something you’re interested in and you need a resource, this woman wrote an amazing book.

Yeah, you’re mentioning it. I can’t help saying the point that she takes home is like, we were talking about the baby before, okay? And if nobody has mirrored our feelings before then we’re missing that skill. Right? So the ideal way would be like, when we were a baby and we were like, angry, somebody would say, oh, you’re angry or if you’re sad. Oh, you’re sad. So we know how to put a name on those feelings instead of saying, you’re okay, you’re faking it. You such a baby.

Right? So maybe this skill has been shut down because you are not mirrored your emotions. And that’s exactly what she helps us to in this book is realize what our emotions are. And she calls it the art of empathy, the training and life’s most essential skills. Alright. Don’t leave me with that. See you next week.

See you next week.


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