Last night in a fit of anger, my 18 year old daughter, who is a senior and doesn’t leave her room much right now, screamed at me, “I’m not a charity case.” This hit me hard. She’s right, I’ve been so focused on “how can I support her” she feels pity, not empathy.

I’m a consultant and a coach, I like to help people, I’m good at it, and it’s how I feel useful when I feel out of control. Yet, I could have done better the last few days in just listening and not jumping in to fix or solve or prescribe, with my family and my friends.

My business has taken a hit like most, yet if someone comes at me with pity, I might stab them in the eye with a fork. I am a strong high achieving woman and feeling empowered is my best stance. I’m pretty sure the distance between empathy and pity is less than 6 feet.

The most profound need we have as human beings is to feel seen, known, and heard. This has always been our deepest need, and it’s screaming so loud with all of us right now. The best we can do is to acknowledge how very very different we all are and how different our needs are right now. The best way to honestly recognize and honor each other right now is to listen from a place of “I see you, I love you, I am you.” Acknowledging that all of our true essences are rising to the top right now in big beautiful, and sometimes really ugly ways. Some of it is the cream rising to the top, and some are the festering of age-old hurt with no “normal” to serve as a salve to the wound. All of us, this isn’t sequestered to age or socioeconomic bands or political parties. Humans are in a state of disruption globally: your teens, your parents, your boss, your neighbor. To expect anyone who has their shit together right now is unrealistic and hurtful.

Maybe we all just listen with our hearts first, our judgment second. I say perhaps because we’ve never been here before and I could be so freakin’ wrong. We’ll only know how to handle this from the future as we look back on what worked and what didn’t. Today is one big social experiment. I’m working to be intentional with my choices, my food, my movement, acknowledging my roller coaster of emotions, the basics. And starting today, I’m just going to listen for what the people in my house are feeling because some aren’t saying much. And that’s okay.