Imagine that a close friend calls you in a panic, because she just lost her job. If you say “don’t worry! you’ll soon find another one!” you might think that you are being encouraging and supportive, but this response may indicate a lack of emotional empathy, which can jeopardize your friendship.
If you find yourself not being able to sustain healthy relationships, there could be a good chance that you do not express emotional empathy. And there is a reason for that. Emotion-image therapy can help you uncover the reasons, and most importantly, it will help you to develop it. As a result you will be able to empathize with self and others. And this will help you develop understanding and warm relationships with people.
There are three types of empathy: cognitive, emotional and compassionate. Cognitive is about the desire to understand, emotional is about desire to feel and compassionate is about desire to help and support. There are many tools for developing cognitive empathy. However, cognitive empathy does not help your friend feel that you are there with them on an emotional level. At a cognitive level you do not internalize her feelings and you might appear “too cold to care”. Emotional empathy is when you know the feeling your friend is feeling. Like if you are in her skin. Emotion-image therapy can help you develop emotional empathy. And at the intersection of cognitive and emotional empathies compassionate empathy is born.
But what does it mean to have emotional empathy? It means that you are able to feel the feelings of your friend, but at the same time you are able to hold your boundaries and contain the feelings of your friend without joining in. Without merging, without dissolving into her problem. You are not falling into their desperate state. If you fall into her hole of desperation you will not be able to pull her out of it. Also it is not about pitying her, you are not empowering her with pity. You empower your friend when you are present with her, holding her and sharing her experience. You do not jump into action, you do not offer quick fixes, you do not take responsibility for fixing her problem. You are scaffolding her way, which allows her to find her own most optimal solution.
Emotion-image therapy (EIT) is able to change your emotional state, and as a result your ability to empathize, because EIT takes into account psychodynamic processes, which affect your emotional state today. It can quickly uncover the reasons why you feel cold, numb, irritated or indifferent to the feelings of your friend. Or it can help you understand why you cannot tolerate and are scared of certain feelings.
If you feel that it is hard for you to develop trusting long-term relationships, I, through emotion-image therapy, will help you create and sustain meaningful, warm, fulfilling and caring relationships.
To sign up for my one-hour long online consultation, email me. My time zone is EST (NYC time).