THE thing about empathy is that it cannot be forced. Either one has it or still needs to fully develop the ability to connect, understand and see things from the perspective of another. This is highly related to being able to consider other people’s situation, or needs or even on being able to reflect one’s personal conduct or decision, which may have an impact to the larger community. Developing this emotional strength could develop inter-personal relations, the cornerstone of any meaningful engagement in the community.
In the workplace setting, I am reminded by the words of a mentor who would always remind us that only those who understand, actually do. During that time, I was fully convinced that while the statement holds true in most cases, actual changes in the practices and behavior would also be a result of a deliberate effort to inform, educate and involve.
Later would I actually realize that while oftentimes pushed by good intention, results may not always lean on the positive side. The reminder was in fact, an invitation to be more circumspect and mindful that there will always be limitations on what we can do, as well as on the readiness of the other side to accept and work together to improve things.
In the course of our work, it became apparent that the level of trust nurtured on the ground will always be affected by certain realities that may affect the response. These determinants of behavior affect the way we deal with others. Thus, it is of no surprise that in any crisis, those who are gentler and trustful tend to empathize better and would, in fact, go out of their way to reach out in an authentic manner.
From the different fieldwork and interaction, I realized that enabling people to tell their stories requires a deep level of trust and connection that springs from the discipline of being fully in the moment as they journey in remembering.
On the personal level, it is this journey that makes a grateful heart whenever a kindred spirit resonates with what one is going through, understands the journey without any judgment, do not force you to forget and move on, but quietly assure support by actively listening. This, as I allowed time for myself to heal and just acknowledge that everything, while there is a degree of discomfort, was all part of growth.
Nothing but the constant reminder that everything and every day is a choice to hope, love and continue. Despite and in spite of. That one’s narrative and experience are as valid as anyone else, and there is no shame in failing, trusting and making oneself vulnerable for those that we are passionate about. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org