Empathy, Sympathy and Mortality

Sometimes I am annoyed when one of my kids 'overreacts' to an injury. I have trouble being empathic when I witness the bump and it is, objectively speaking, minor.

Tears, demands for band-aids, wailing that seems a tad put-on. I find myself at a crossroads: Is it my job to reflect an objective truth, that it is a minor injury in the grand scheme of things, and in essence, tell my kid to toughen up? Or, is it my job to comfort and console, trusting that the big rough world will teach the continuum of pain and challenge, over time? No right or static answer, of course. 

But this week I'm taking the empathy route more often - I turn my skepticism meter off and provide soft, expansive hugs for as long as needed.

Here's why:

1. Even if the reaction is exaggerated, there's some reason my child is seeking attention or comfort. And I - almost exclusively - can provide it. 

2. Who am I to tell someone else if they are in pain?

3. At the end of the day - nay - the end of my life, would I rather have erred on the side of comforting or toughening up? 

Why am I thinking about the end of my life?

From time to time I find contemplating mortality a helpful way to maintain perspective and really check in with myself. This week I listened to Dan Harris' 10% Happier podcast and he interviewed the creator of an app that reminds you that you're going to die. Because this " helps spur needed change, accept what we must, let go of things that don’t matter and honor things that do".

I more easily find the humor and lightness in life when I remember that I can die any time. 

WeCroak helps you find happiness while contemplating your mortality. Sound morbid? Try it for a week then weigh in! I'd love to hear your stories about using this app (or why you would rather not use it...). 

Brene Brown illustrated video on Empathy vs. Sympathy


Other hot topics from the week:

For parents with younger kids: To march or not? Washington Post

If your kids are 10+ What to Watch with your Kids Washington Post (via Common Sense Media)

How Sex Educators Talk to Their Sons About Consent Huff Post