Recognizing Your Pain and that of Others Is Also a Form of Power

I want to share one way that you can become more powerful that may not, initially, seem like a prescription for Pain-2-Power.  But it is.  You can remind yourself, even daily, that everyone is in some kind of pain.  And we are more alike than different in our needs and fears.

How could reminding yourself that everyone is pained, in one way or another, lead you to personal power?  It does so by unleashing your empathy.  It taps the parts of your heart and mind that can resonate with the suffering of others and that can stop running—and actually face and overcome—your own.

Once you embrace the notion that no one really escapes painful challenges in life (even if they might pretend, otherwise), you become open to hearing the truth from others, and they will recognize that, whether consciously or unconsciously.  You will become connected to others in deeper, more meaningful, more authentic ways.  And you will become increasingly connected to yourself in deeper, more meaningful ways, too.  This is a potent form of real personal and interpersonal power.

I have often shared my belief that human beings don’t really bond as deeply over our successes in life as we do over our struggles in life.  If fifty of us were to gather in a room, for instance, and read the most impressive parts of our resumes to one another, we wouldn’t leave the room feeling all that connected.  We might even feel some envy.  We might have spent a lot of the time judging one another.  We might have judged ourselves, too.  But if, instead, we gathered in the same room and shared one or two things in our lives that aren’t going so well, or that frighten us, or that we wondered whether we would survive, we would leave very deeply connected, indeed.  Now, here’s another part of the magic:  If only two or three of the 50 people gathered in the room shared their pain, we would still all leave the room feeling connected.  Simply being in the presence of others when truth and empathy are also present can create powerful bonds.  Powerful.

Why is this the case?  It is because of the miracle—yes, miracle—of human empathy.  We tend to take it for granted that human beings can resonate with the pain of others.  We even tend to take it for granted that taking the time to quietly do so, in the presence of someone in pain, actually sustains that person, emotionally, and can kindle that person’s courage.  But we shouldn’t.  Because human empathy is a gift from God, the way I see it (or the Universe or Nature, if you prefer to see it that way, instead).

Now, consider this fact:  When you empathize with yourself, meaning when you learn to uncover the hidden reservoirs of pain in your life that you’ve been trying to avoid (at any—and, often, very substantial cost), you will discover untold reservoirs of power.

I promise you this is the case.  And I am here to help.

Dr. Keith Ablow

    

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