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The Power of Empathy

When a loved one is facing a difficulty, we desperately want to make it better. Someone’s hurting? We want to soothe the pain. A friend is diagnosed with breast cancer? We want to ask a million questions and find that silver lining so we can say, “At least you caught it early” or “At least you have options.” And while telling someone to look on the bright side may seem like the best course of action, trying to fix his/her problem yourself can actually cause distance.

In the following animation, Dr. Brené Brown discusses the differences between empathy and sympathy, and urges us to connect with one another — and that can be as simple as acknowledging that you don’t know what to say. “Empathy is a choice,” Dr. Brown says, “and it’s a vulnerable choice, because in order to connect with you, I have to connect with something in myself that knows that feeling.”

Learn how you can connect with someone going through a difficult time.

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