In my last post, I said that good things result from our bad experiences. If we pay attention, we will recognize that in every bad situation we are faced with, something good happens because of it. I have had a lot of bad experiences in my lifetime, but I also feel that I’ve gained a lot from all of them. For me, the best thing that has come from all of the difficulties in my life has been personal growth.
Two of my favorite qualities that resulted from the challenges I’ve endured are empathy and compassion. I haven’t educated myself on these two qualities, but I’m assuming they are learned/can be taught. Maybe some of us are more inclined to be empathetic and compassionate, but I think we all possess the ability to become them. I think it is greatly due to empathy and compassion that I have connected on so many levels with so many different people in my life.
It is in my nature to try to put myself in other people’s shoes. I try to imagine what it must feel like to be them. Doing so, also helps me to minimize judgment because when you try to picture what it would feel like to be in someone else’s situation, it makes it harder to judge them for their choices because we actually, really don’t know what we would do until we go through the experience ourselves. So many times I have said “Oh, if that happened to me, I would do XYZ and I definitely wouldn’t do ABC! And so many times, it turns out that when I’m confronted with the exact scenario I imagined, I end up doing 123 and ABC and saying “$#@% I was so wrong!!”
My friend Sara recently sent me a video on empathy. It’s voiced by none other than my hero, Brené Brown. It’s only two+ minutes long but perfectly captures the definition of empathy. Please watch it. My hope is that next time a friend comes to you with an issue, you will remember this. RSA Shorts - The Power of Empathy
And in case you're wondering, here are the definitions of empathy and compassion from the online Merriam-Webster dictionary.
Empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.
Compassion: sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it.