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Sunday, August 7, 2022

Empathic resonance, the key to helping others without getting dragged down by their problems

Gloria Sánchez Aguilar. Peninsula 360 Press [P360P].

The emotional connection we make with the people around us is powerful food for the soul. We all need understanding and validation. To feel that there is at least one other person in the universe who understands and supports us.

However, in a hyperconnected society like the one we live in, we are indeed more and more connected, but also more absent and, therefore, more lonely. Many people are physically present, but mentally and emotionally distant. They nod absentmindedly while looking at their cell phones. They forget the conversation because they never engaged in it.

Of course, we can't connect emotionally when our heads are elsewhere. Empathic resonance, on the other hand, involves connecting with the other person's inner world to give them the support they need.

What exactly is empathic resonance?

The concept of empathic resonance has its roots in Humanistic Psychology. It implies a deeper form of interpersonal relationship because it involves what the other person expresses: what he/she says, what he/she is silent about, that is, what he/she expresses with words and with his/her body language.

Unlike empathy, empathic resonance does not involve stepping aside to put ourselves in the other person's shoes, but using our "I" to connect with that other person in the most receptive way possible to their experiences, feelings and ideas, but without losing sight of the fact that the other person is the one to whom the feelings belong.

Empathic resonance does not imply being "identical" to the other, but rather a kind of separation is maintained. It is this distance that allows us to provide appropriate help. Empathic resonance allows us to experience their situation, but in a different way, often more fully or more objectively. We may be able to identify the other's main problems and conflicts or the dysfunctional strategies they are putting into practice.

Empathic resonance involves helping others without being dragged down by their problems.

How to develop the core skills of empathic resonance? 

Attention and mindfulness. It consists of being fully present in the here and now, paying attention to our interlocutor. It implies a genuine presence and a sincere interest in the other person's concerns.

Experiential Search. Go beyond what is seen and do not settle for the superficial, try to dive into the deeper meaning that is usually hidden behind the words.

Active emotional expression. To put into words or translate into action what we are feeling. It is not to be ashamed of pain, failure or any other emotion but to use them to build bridges.

Unconditional appreciation. Any criticism or attempt to judge breaks empathy. That's why empathic resonance demands unconditional appreciation. It does not necessarily mean agreeing with the other person's ideas, but validating their emotional experiences by showing unconditional acceptance so that they feel understood and supported.

With Empathic Resonance we can offer support to our partner, children, family, friends and anyone who is going through a difficult situation. Let's put it into practice.

Gloria Sánchez Aguilar lives in Mexico, has a degree in Psychology and works as a psychotherapist.

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