Updated: Mar 8
“Empathy has no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simple listening, holding space, withholding judgement, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of “You’re not alone.” Dr. Brené Brown
Part 2 of developing empathy and becoming a better athlete.
If you are going to develop mastery and be your best self, it takes time, focus, and a selfish obsession. It also takes a team of support. For athletes, this includes, coaches, trainers, mental skills coaches, physical therapists, teammates, and loved ones. Take a moment to identify your team of support. At the end of the day, this list can be quite lengthy.
Athletes need their team to guide, motivate, support, and help them to achieve their dreams. With that said, it’s easy to let cognitive biases influence your thoughts and actions. When left unchecked, it can erode relationships, especially with those closest to you. It can make them feel a sense of low self-worth, self-doubt, confusion, sadness, anger, resentment, and detachment (Clarke, 2019).
Therefore, it’s important to check those egocentric thoughts by nurturing your relationships with others. Expressing empathy, “Encourages altruistic behavior, and empathy-based kindness has been shown to increase cooperation and forgiveness, strengthens relationships, decreases aggression and judgement, and even improves mental and physical health (Carpenter, 2020).”
Strengthening your empathy for others involves: (Carpenter, 2020)
a. Active Listening. It means that you are taking the time to listen attentively. “Empathy begins when you set the intention of listening for emotion. Make an effort to notice the signals people are giving that can indicate what they are feeling.” This includes body language, tone of voice, what the person is saying, and how they are feeling (emotionally).
b. Standing In Their Shoes is an amplified connection. “Once you recognize emotion in another person, empathy puts you squarely in that person’s shoes. Empathy is not feeling what you would feel in that situation; it is stepping beside yourself and adopting their emotions for a few moments.” These moments are amplified connections because you are able to feel their pain. It's also a moment in time that lets others know that they are not alone because you are there by their side.
c. Objective Perspective, As the listener, you stand in a position to see things objectively. It’s your objectivity that gives you the perspective to help and support. “For empathy to be most effective and maximize well-being, it is important to feel both the pain of another and also know that you are in a position to do something about it.”
In the end, focusing on your selfish passion is what helps you to develop mastery. However, life doesn't revolve around just you and your needs! If you are truly going to develop mastery and excel, you need your team of support to be there for you, and you need to be available to support your team as well.
Click on the link to the next blog and how empathy can help you to be a go leader and teammate.
Carpenter, D. (n.d.). 3 Ways to Build Real Empathy for Others in Your Life. Retrieved March 1, 2021, from https://www.verywellmind.com/how-to-develop-empathy-in-relationships-1717547