Have a Heart; Here's How

Have a Heart; Here's How

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A few exercises to help increase your feelings of empathy:

Building empathy for your intimate partner

Envision a characteristic or behavior of yours that you know your partner dislikes. Imagine shifting your consciousness into your partner's perspective, even though you may disagree with that perspective.

Immerse yourself in your partner's perceptions of you. Try to experience them fully. At the same time, hold on to your own views.

Then try to understand your partner's attitudes as a reflection of who he or she is, based on all the influences and choices that have shaped him or her. Don't judge.

Creating empathy for someone you dislike

Extend the practice described above.

Tell yourself how or why that person may have developed negative feelings about you. Imagine what the conflict feels like from his or her perspective.

Entertain the idea that you are only partially right or perhaps wrong altogether.

Next, open yourself to seeing yourself through the eyes of that person. Just observe, without either defending yourself or agreeing.

Generating empathy for strangers

It helps you expand your capacity for empathy by practicing it toward people you don't even know.

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