Yesterday, in my therapy group, I wrote the word “empathy” twice on the white board.
I wrote “empathy” twice because I heard and experienced so much of it from the group participants. I especially noted and appreciated it because I hear and experience so little empathy, these days, from world leaders.
Why do the participants in a therapy group seem to have so much more empathy than world leaders?
Is it because “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”?
Is it because people who have come together to cope, heal, support, and learn from each other naturally have more empathy?
What does your empathy tell you about that?
Here’s a definition of empathy, again:
the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
synonyms: affinity with, rapport with, sympathy with, understanding of, sensitivity toward, sensibility to, identification with, awareness of, fellowship with, fellow feeling for, like-mindedness, togetherness, closeness to
“what is really important about learning a language is learning empathy for another culture”
Empathy is really the opposite of spiritual meanness. It’s the capacity to understand that every war is won and lost. And that someone’s pain is as meaningful as your own. — Barbara Kingsolver.
Sympathy relies on a common experience. If you’re clumsy, you might have sympathy for others who tend to bump into things. Empathy, on the other hand, is the ability to understand another person’s feelings even if you’ve never experienced them yourself. — Joe Gebbia
A prerequisite to empathy is just paying attention to the person in pain. — Daniel Goleman
Human nature is complex. Even if we do have inclinations towards violence, we also have inclination to empathy, to cooperation, to self-control. — Steven Pinker
Empathy begins with understanding life from another person’s perspective. Nobody has an objective experience of reality. It’s all through our own individual prisms. — Sterling K. Brown
Empathy is the latest code word for liberal activism, for treating the Constitution as malleable clay to be kneaded and molded in whatever form justices want. It represents an expansive view of the judiciary in which courts create policy that couldn’t pass the legislative branch or, if it did, would create voter backlash. — Karl Rove
When you show deep empathy towards others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems. — Stephen Covey
The struggle of my life created empathy — I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me. — Oprah Winfrey
Empathy is the starting point for creating a community and taking action. It’s the impetus for creating change. — Max Carver
Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals. — Neil Gaiman
Is there empathy in my other photos from yesterday?
Which of those photos represents empathy best, to you?
For me, it’s this one:
Or maybe this one:
Any empathy in this quote from Frank Zappa, the leader of the Mothers of Invention?
The mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it’s not open.
I look forward to the empathy in your comments, below.
Empathic thanks to all who helped me create today’s post and — of course! — to YOU.