Empathy is a bit of a buzzword at the moment, for all the right reasons. Empathy is emotional intelligence. Here’s why empathy must start with you.
If you truly loved yourself, you could never hurt another ~ Buddha
To empathise is to put yourself in the shoes of another, to see through their eyes and convey that understanding. The ability to empathise is the vehicle through which we convey love, kindness, compassion and acceptance to one another. So why do humans struggle with empathy?
The ability to truly empathise with another starts with extending empathy to yourself.
We can attempt to empathise with other people but, until we can show true love, compassion and non-judgement to ourselves, we will always struggle not to judge other people.
When we judge other people we are, in effect, judging ourselves. When we lack empathy for another being we lack empathy for ourselves. Judgement and empathy cannot coincide together.
So, if empathy is the ability to stand in the shoes of another person and see through their eyes, how we can we empathise with ourselves?
The person I am today, writing these words, is not the person I was yesterday, last week, last month or last decade. I am not the victim of my childhood or the survivor of my early adult life.
I am not the pain I suffered or the pain I caused others. Through this understanding, I can look at myself in the past with empathy, with kindness and with compassion.
By extending empathy to the person I was in the past, through my eyes of today, I rise above any negative emotions; pain, shame, grief, anger and every other emotion that I’m scared to face and extend understanding to myself, for all my struggles.
Through this understanding, I am able to deal with the residual feelings of the past that I need to let go. I can see what I need to change in terms of my thoughts, beliefs and conditioning in the present to stop the past affecting my future.
I love myself through, deeply, compassionately and without judgement. By truly accepting myself and my struggles in life through the gift of empathy, I can go on to extend empathy as the vehicle of kindness and compassion to others.
This is why empathy must start with you. It doesn’t matter whether you have been hurt or hurt others. True empathy starts with compassion and self-love for you. It’s the greatest act of self-love and leads to an increase in self-confidence, self-worth and self-belief.
So love yourself through my friends. Extend love, kindness and compassion to yourself in the past as the person you are in the now. By extending love to yourself in past, you change your future for the better.
Once you truly love yourself, you could never hurt another.
By Samantha Wilson