Empathy

Meditations

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[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]This week’s meditation is called love and kindness meditation. The theme of the meditations would be two-fold – self-compassion and compassion towards others.

You can either do both in all of your session or you can alternate between the two to experience both individually.

For self-compassion, focus on accepting and loving yourself as you are. Feel the love and use affirmations if you wish. If you need some guidance, listen to Tara Brach’s Guided Meditation on self-compassion.

For love and kindness meditation towards others, meditate on sending love to people. These people could be your friends, family, enemies, acquaintances, people you envy, people you dislike, strangers, etc. Send love to all of them one by one. For guidance, just search for “love and kindness” meditation and you’ll find plenty.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]

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Day 1

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Mission 1 (Empathy Vs Sympathy)

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[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Let’s kick off this week by understanding the difference between empathy and sympathy.

For that watch the following video. It’s the best explanation I’ve come across: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Evwgu369Jw

Reading fiction is one of the best ways to improve your empathy skills. Another way is to imagine every person as a child. Think of them as human beings with desires and needs. All they are trying to do is be happy. When you fail to feel empathy for someone, you can ask yourself questions like:

  • What is this person’s background? Could past issues be influencing their reaction?
  • What if someone had done that to me? How would I feel?
  • If I haven’t had a similar experience, have I ever felt a similar emotion?
  • What if that were my [child/parent/job/dog/etc.]?

Today when talking to someone, look at them and see things from their perspective. Instead of providing a solution to their problems, try validating their feelings and problems. Except if they’re looking for a real solution, in which case they’ll ask. But if they are just going through a feeling and talking to you for support, just be with them and ride the emotional wave.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]

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Mission 2 (Dealing With Conflicts)

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[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]As we practice looking at things from other people’s perspective, we can use the same skill during the times of arguments and conflicts.

It’s okay to agree to disagree, but to do that, you need to understand them and be okay with a disagreement.

To practice this, do either of these two things:

  1. Remember a time when you were in an argument with someone. Get in their shoes and understand their intentions. (even if you don’t agree)
  2. Choose one thing you strongly believe in. It could be a religion, political view, dietary choice, life philosophy, etc. Now, go online and read something that opposes your views or at least differs from what you already believe in. The point is just to become tolerant and be open to new perspectives using the power of empathy.
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Day 2

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Mission 3 (Loving & Being Loved)

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[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Let’s understand needs in more depth.

Gary Chapman, in his book, The Five Love Languages , says we all have a certain language in which we feel loved. These languages are:

  1. Words of affirmation (example: receiving compliments)
  2. Acts of service (example: someone cooking a meal for you)
  3. Quality time (example: distraction-free conversation)
  4. Receiving gifts (example: getting a surprise gift)
  5. Physical touch (example: getting a hug)

It’s not that one is bound to have one single language, but we usually have one dominant way we feel loved.

After knowing your own language, make sure you communicate that with people close to you and also notice or ask what their language is so you can fulfill their needs.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]

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Mission 4 (Managing Relationships)

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[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]A big part of any relationship is managing expectations and taking responsibility.

In any relationship, don’t depend on others to make you happy. Take full responsibility to be happy on your own and take the pressure off of them.

A lot of times, we expect people to act in a certain way (especially when we get close to them). While it’s normal to expect, it’s not healthy to take everything for granted.

Make sure you manage your expectations first and when you have some unmet expectations, communicate it with the other person to let them know. (don’t expect them to read your mind)

Sometimes, people will still not meet your expectations after communicating with them. That’s really okay. We all are humans. Be okay with not having all your expectations met.

Expect less. Thank more. Forgive more.

Let’s do that today.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]

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Day 3

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Mission 5 (Healing Negative Self-Talk)

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[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Today, our focus would be empathy towards ourselves.

So often, we get stuck in a downward spiral of negative self-talk and thoughts, which leads to depression, anxiety, stress, self-doubt, and so on.

Here’s how the downward spiral looks like:

I think of opportunities I have missed → I feel sad, disappointed, frustrated, angry → I blame myself for these problems → I feel more depressed → I can’t see a way out → I feel hopeless

This cycle of negative thoughts and feeling needs to break.

How do we do that? By breaking in with a positive thought or action. Here’s how:

  • Instead of saying “I always/never”, say “this time” or “sometimes” and then take the opposite action to prove yourself.
  • Instead of saying “I’m an idiot”, say “I made a mistake” and that’s okay because I will continue learning and improving.
  • Instead of saying “I’m fat”, say “It’s challenging for me to manage my weight but I’m going to do something about it because I’d love to feel better in my body.”

Now, list some negative talks you have with yourself and then change your script to a positive one that will build up your self-worth.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]

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Mission 6 (Loving Yourself)

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[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Another exercise for today is to write yourself a self-compassionate letter.

In that letter, pretend you’re writing as a friend of yourself who loves you and cares about you. What would you say? What advice would you give? How will you show compassion to your friend?

Write the letter and let it sit for a while. Save it and revisit (or rewrite) it whenever you need some self-compassion.

You can even take this practice to everyday self-talk you have with yourself. Every time you catch yourself falling in a downward spiral of negative talk, flip the script and talk to yourself as a friend who loves you unconditionally.

(Optional) Further reading: How To Love Yourself And Improve Yourself At The Same Time[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]

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Day 4

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Mission 7 (Handling Poor Behavior)

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[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]A lot of times, we get irritated by other’s behavior. The more we focus on that behavior, the more we notice it and the more we get irritated. It’s a vicious cycle.

When this cycle persists for a longer period, we develop passive-aggression towards them which is toxic for any relationship.

The cure:

  1. Clear communication: Let the person know the behavior affects you (without anger)
  2. Solving: Instead of attacking the person, solve it together by addressing the issue with kindness and empathy.
  3. Making peace: If the behavior persists, accept the other person fully and do what brings you peace.
  4. Leading by example: Be the change you want to see in the world.

Another thing to keep in mind is that we are very good at getting irritated but, not so much at identifying the impact of our own behavior.

It is important to think about the consequences of how we behave. How do your actions or emotions affect others? Are you inspiring and setting an example or leaving a bad impression for the world to follow?

Next time when you feel the urge to behave poorly with others, think what the world would look like if everyone behaved like that.

And when others start the poor behavior, stand your ground and demand respect but never fall down to lower standards.

Today, be an example and make the world a better place by showing your emotional intelligence.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]

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Mission 8 (Being Kind & Non-Judgemental – Part 1)

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[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]There’s a fundamental attribution error we make. We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior.

For example, if we make a mistake, we may justify it by saying we were in a rush. But when it comes to others, we are quick to pass judgment and don’t give the benefit of doubt to them.

For one day, don’t judge/blame yourself or anyone. Just let yourself and others be as they are. Instead, look for the good in yourself and others. If you look for it, you’ll find it.

Then, write about your experience at the end of the day. What good qualities did you find?

(Optional) Further reading: How To Live And Let Live: Change The Way You See The World[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]

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Mission 9 (Being Kind & Non-Judgemental – Part 2)

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[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Another way to reduce judgment is to focus on behavior, instead of the character. For example:

Don’t say: “You obviously don’t care about your job, and you are letting the team down. Start getting here on time!”

Instead, you could say: “You have been late three times over the past fourteen days. As you know, it is important for the sake of the team’s performance that everyone is here on time.”

Notice how the second sentence is focused on the behavior of the person (which can be changed). It’s not an attack on the character of the person.

Now go try it out yourself.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]

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Day 5

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Mission 10 (Improving Your Listening Skills)

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[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]The mother skill of empathy is listening.

Listening is not just about hearing what the other person is saying. Often, we get lost in our own thoughts and start thinking about what to say next instead of listening to understand others. Or sometimes, we only hear what we want to listen. The world would be a much better place if only we all improved our listening skills.

To improve your listening skills:

  • Repeat back what you think you heard or felt and ask clarifying questions if you get confused.
  • Remove the distractions (looking at a screen) and when you get distracted, let them know instead of feeling guilty about it.
  • Let the other person talk what they want to talk about (don’t cut their topic off)
  • Make the other person feel important by being attentive (your body language should reflect that by making eye contact and learning in)
  • Actually  take an interest by being curious. When you’re curious, you don’t have to pretend to be interested.
  • Don’t just listen with your ears. Listen with your eyes and heart (look at them and notice how they feel).

So that’s your task for today. Listen to someone with undivided attention. For one day, speak less and listen more.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]

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Mission 11 (Providing Emotional Support)

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[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]The next skill is learning to mirror someone’s energy.

When someone is excited, get excited and celebrate their successes!

When someone is feeling low, validate their feelings and provide them with emotional support.

Matching someone’s energy shows you genuinely care.  After all, we all need each other during our good and the bad times.

Give energy mirroring a try along with the practice  to listen.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]

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Day 6

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Mission 12 (Projecting Happiness)

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[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Today we’ll talk about one of my favorite topics – positivity/happiness.

Your mission for today is to project happiness. Minimize negativity, gossip, insult, useless criticism, unnecessary arguments and spread positivity all around you (even if people are not wired to talk about positive things in life).

Don’t expect others to feel or be positive because you are. Most people are trapped in a negative cycle of thoughts and feelings and you understand that through your empathy skills. So instead of getting upset, keep sending your positive vibes because that’s who you are.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]

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Mission 13 (Caring Less – In A Good Way)

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[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Building on the same theme, we need to learn how to stop taking everything personally.

How people act is a reflection of their mental state. You are not at fault.

As I create content online, I get hate comments too. But I’ve learned not to take them seriously or personally. I assume they are having a bad day and they couldn’t express their emotions so they express their anger hiding behind a keyboard. Everything has to do with them.

If you feel responsible for other people’s happiness or disappointments, it’s time to take some pressure off.

Do care about the people you love, but remember you can’t control them. Let go of your need to control how they feel.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]

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Day 7

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Mission 14 (Treating Others)

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[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Did you know empathy had rules?

The most commonly known is the Golden Rule of empathy.

The Golden Rule is to treat others as you want to be treated.

Then came the Platinum Rule which went far beyond the Golden Rule.

The Platinum Rule is to treat people how they want to be treated, regardless of how we might personally want to be treated in similar situations.

Finally, author and speaker Bryan Williams came up with the Double Platinum Rule which exceeds the first two rules.

The Double Platinum Rule is to treat others the way they don’t even know they want to be treated.

Crazy, right?

While it’s not easy to execute, it’s something we can always keep in mind while interacting with friends, family, customers, co-workers, employers, and so on.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]

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Mission 15 (Forgiving Others)

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[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]We all have had people in our lives we dislike.

I want you to think about such a person. Maybe this person has hurt you or offended you.

Now, send them love (in your mind). You may even think about the good things about this person.

Next, put a conscious effort to forgive this person be detached by making peace. Even if the relationship cannot be restored, wish the person well and give them the gift of your compassion and mercy.

Forgiveness is not about justifying if the person deserves it or not. It’s about your own peace of mind.

Finally, find a purpose behind what the person made you experience. Maybe you are a stronger person now or you’ve learned a great life lesson.

Another technique you can try is writing love letter to them (not to send them, but only for yourself). John Gray showed this in Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. Follow the following framework and then you can delete or keep the letter with yourself:

Dear ____,

Step One: Express Anger and Blame

  • I hate it when …
  • I don’t like it when …
  • I’m fed up with …

Step Two: Express Hurt and Sadness

  • I feel sad when …
  • I feel hurt because …
  • I feel awful because …
  • I feel disappointed because …

Step Three: Express Fear and Insecurity

  • I’m afraid that …
  • I feel scared because …

Step Four: Express Guilt and Responsibility

  • I’m sorry that …
  • I’m sorry for …
  • Please forgive me for …
  • I didn’t mean to …

Step Five: Express Love, Forgiveness,

  • Understanding, and Hope
  • I love you because …
  • I love you when …
  • Thank you for …
  • I forgive you for …
  • I understand that …
  • I want …
  • I hope …

Love,

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Day 8

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Mission 16 (Recognizing Others’ Feelings)

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[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]Let’s take a deep dive into others’ emotions and feelings.

We spend so much time in our own heads that we forget to take other’s emotions into perspective.

Choose one person whom you spend a lot of time with. Recognize his/her feelings and needs throughout the day. You may also just ask using questions like “How do you feel about that?” or “How did that make you feel?”

This immersion into other’s feelings will train you to be more empathetic and less self-obsessed (where a lot of misery comes from).[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]

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Mission 17 (Being A Giver)

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[op_liveeditor_element data-style=””][text_block style=”undefined” align=”left”]There are three kinds of people:

  1. Givers (who give more than they take)
  2. Takers (who take more than they give)
  3. Matchers (who try to match giving and taking)

Which one are you?

For a day, I invite you to experience being a giver regardless of who you have been in the past.

Your goal for today is to give more than you take by doing random acts of kindness.

After the day, notice how you feel.

That will be the best way to end our empathy week.[/text_block][/op_liveeditor_element]

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Soul Quotes
Soul Quotes