Ian McEwan writes 'Imagining what it is like to be someone other than yourself is at the core of our humanity. It is the essence of compassion, and it is the beginning of morality.'
The vast majority of us have the capacity for empathy, and it seems that this capacity is something that can be developed or disconnected from.
When thinking about what we do at the Trust, people often talk about their experience here being life changing, like coming home to themselves and humanity. But how and why?
In part it is about cultivating empathy through the process of the teaching and the group experience. The training supports the exploration of blocks to empathy, the opening of our hearts and souls to ourselves and others – you hear other people’s stories, struggles and joys, see how this impacts you and in turn explore that impact. This creates connection, which supports belonging and love, which mobilises the desire to connect to people and serve each other. In this way we play our part in the revolutionising of human relationships that humanity needs.
In this short animation on empathy, Roman Krznaric talks about how developing empathy, and making it a part of the art of living, can be part of important social and political change.
President Obama has talked about about America’s empathy deficit – it’s easy to see how moving from a place of assumptions and prejudice about others towards trying to understand their world view and values can expand your moral universe. Roman Krznaric talks about moving from introspection to outrospection, from nurturing curiosity in ourselves and our inner lives, to nurturing curiosity about others.
In many ways this is what you do when you train at the Trust – taking the journey of introspection and inner reflection towards curiosity in others, and for some, towards actively working with others as therapists.
Matt Shepheard, Training Director.
Here’s another great short animation on the difference between empathy and sympathy from Dr Brene Brown.