Lucy Lucas

Lucy Lucas' Blog

Yoga & Mind Blog by Lucy Lucas

The Mindfulness of Empathy

Our brains are hardwired to notice negative or threatening things – and then move away from them. This reaction is wired into our ‘ancient’ brain, the amydala; it is where our ‘fight or flight’ behaviour comes from. It’s part of who we are, and undoubtedly has kept our species alive for a long time.But a downside to this, is that we find it difficult to tolerate uncomfortable situations.When we experience discomfort, especially with another person, or a group, our instinctive reaction is to lessen that discomfort. It might be by making a joke in an awkward introduction at a party; or downplaying our true feelings and not expressing what we really think; to walking away from a conflict rather than listening to the other person; to pretending that everything is ‘fine’ rather than asking for help.

Whilst we all might feel a little less uncomfortable, this behaviour is unhelpful because it creates a distance between us. If we cannot express how we really feel, our needs are unlikely to be met. This breeds resentment towards the other parties involved, we blame each other, when really we have not even given them a chance to help us.In this short video, Brene Brown offers a different view: that to truly connect, to express our real needs, we need to live with the discomfort of being vulnerable. Because our brains are hardwired to avoid discomfort, this kind of behaviour is a practice, one that we need to do over and over until the instinctive reaction to run or to joke, becomes less. As our resilience to discomfort increases, so will our ability to have our needs truly met.