If you were to ask anyone what the world needs, you would likely start singing with the Beatles, “All you need is love. Da da da da da… Love is all you need.” And, you would be right! Kindness, compassion, and love. These have been identified globally throughout the centuries as the most game-changing characteristics that can belong to a human being.
Another word that can be tossed in that top notch mix is empathy. Empathy can be defined as “the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other being’s frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another’s position.” While an empathic response is not the equivalent of love, when we put ourselves in the shoes of another person, we are in an excellent position to move into kindness, compassion, and love.
Here, then, is the million dollar question: How can one grow in empathy? Is there anything that we can do practically on a regular basis to boost our chances of having an empathic response toward those around us?
Interpersonal Neurobiologist, Dan Siegel, suggests that “self-understanding is foundational to empathy.” Dr. Siegel studies interpersonal relationships and the way we impact each others’ bodies and minds. He has found that as we grow in self-understanding, we can actually avoid behaviors that harm human relationships and move toward actions of kindness and compassion. In essence, when we are in touch with ourselves, we are better able to be in touch with others.
To grow in love, grow in empathy.
To grow in empathy, grow in self-understanding.
But, how can I grow in self-understanding?
We are glad you asked!
When we take time to think time, we allow our inner selves to emerge onto paper and into our lives:
- We evaluate our personal experiences when we reflect on our highs and lows individually or with others using our Timeline Tool.
- We acknowledge our aspirations when we ask ourselves what “wild success” looks like using the Envision Box.
- We identify and validate our desires when we ask, “What do I want more of?” “What do I want less of?”
- We face our failures and successes squarely when we take time to review, asking ourselves “What worked?” and “What didn’t?”
Thus, when we think time regularly, we are promoting our own self-understanding.
And, as we grow in self-understanding, we grow in our capacity for empathy.
As we grow in empathy, we grow in our capacity for love.
And, all we really need is…love.
These are my thoughts… What are yours?
Please share in the comments below!
Christine M. Wilson, LPC
Co-Founder, Think Time
Think Time Life Leadership System
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