No, I'm not talking about Chinese New Year.
On the retreat weekend, we watched this clip by nursing scholar, Brene Brown. It literally takes about a minute or two to watch and speaks volumes.
If you're just lazy and don't feel like getting in touch with your visual learning side, I'll sum it up for you in a nutshell -
The clip shows a fox and a bear with the narrator (Brown) talking about the differences in empathy and sympathy. It shows the bear going "down in the dark hole" with the fox and simply just being there. It then shows a goat representing sympathy coming down and trying to "silver-line" the situation. In the end, the bear just puts his arm around the fox, signifying empathy.
In the last two months, I've had a handful of friends who I would consider the "bears" in my life. They've gotten down in the hole with me. They've listened, they haven't talked and tried to tell me everything will be ok. They've let me cry on the phone, let me cry on their shoulder, and curse and vent about it all. Some of these "bears" include Tammy, Lindsay, Heather, Laura, Brie, Ashley, & Bridgett.
There have been a few goats. They mean well, but really, they don't know what to say so they just make up the first thing off the top of their head that is automatically supposed to make me feel better. I don't think the "goats" read my blog but I'm not going to list them, regardless.
So, are you a bear or a goat? It's ok if you're a goat. I'm pretty sure we've all been goats plenty of times because let's face it - when life gets hard for people we love, we want to make it better.
But in the last two months, to be completely honest, the best way to make it better is simply to just shut up and be there for them.