Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Lesson in Empathy

In Sympathyphoto © 2005 Jan Tik | more info (via: Wylio)
Everyday in my professional life I deal with attitudes and emotions of my students.  I've always felt I was pretty sympathetic to their life issues.  But sympathy only goes so far.  There's a lot of suffering in our world that I don't have experience with.  The experience of losing my Sister has changed me.  The hurt and pain I feel grieving Erica has broadened my capacity for empathy.

Sometimes when you've never been through what others are experiencing it's hard to relate.  We might have sympathy for them but we don't really know how they feel.  I've had students, friends, and family members lose siblings or a child and I really had no clue how they felt.  In fact the level of sympathy I had probably wasn't adequate for their grief.  I promised my Sister I would always try to find the positive side.  So in honor of that promise I'm going to view my new capacity for empathy as positive.

Quote:  Suffering and joy teach us, if we allow them, how to make the leap of empathy, which transports us into the soul and heart of another person. In those transparent moments we know other people's joys and sorrows, and we care about their concerns as if they were our own.
                                             ~ Fritz Williams

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