This Christmas, the best gift you could have given your loved ones was your time.
So many of us are busy running around, doing this and that, and we forget the whole reason for the season.
I believe that while God wants us to remember and value the birth of His Son, He also wants us to treasure our loved ones, especially during this holiday.
During this holiday break, choose to be empathetic and not merely sympathetic towards your loved ones.
Being merely sympathetic means you listen, but you don't really try to relate or understand what your loved one is going through.
Let's not take our loved ones for granted, and let's give back to them by being empathetic, which means to listen and to care.
Here are 10 ways you can be empathetic instead of being sympathetic:
1. Your intentions of listening to that person are pure and are not misguided/inspired by selfish-gains.
2. Carve out the time and space to intentionally listen to the person.
3. In that space of time, you must be completely immersed in communication with that person and be willing to be emotionally invested.
4. Put yourself in that person's shoes. You must find something in you to connect with your loved one, even if you cannot fully relate to their circumstances.
5. Listen to their whole story fully before you interrupt them or make any enquiries or comments. Remember to be sensitive when you do make comments. Think carefully about your responses instead of just blurting out your feelings about their situation.
6. Don't be the "at least" person, meaning you make statements that make their situation seem better than it is. For example, if your friend were to tell you they were failing all their classes, making a statement like, "At least you've never failed a class before," may make that person feel worse and give the impression that you don't really care about what they are going through.
7. Make sure you listen to them more than you talk. This does not mean you keep silent; however, you make sure that you don't turn the conversation into a time for you to talk about yourself. Remember, it's not all about you, it's about them.
8. Don't be quick to pass judgements on what that person is sharing with you. You are not here to be a judge. You are here to be a listener.
9. Be honest, even if the truth hurts. Don't be afraid to be real because your words may be constructive and helpful to that person's growth. However, you don't have to feel like you need to give that person answers or even solutions. Most times, your loved one just wants you to listen, and that is enough.
10. Show them and remind them that you love them and always will. No matter what happens, you are always going to be there for them and care for them.