How can I be fully empathetic and compassionate towards another?

An exercise in extreme empathy

  • What would it be like to think like them? Do this to the best of your ability.
  • What must they feel? As you ponder the thoughts you think this person has, notice how you feel. Where in you body do you feel it? What are the sensations like?
  • What experiences have they had in life? Using the mindset you think they have, imagine those experiences. How does this make you feel?
  • How do they behave? As you imagine their behavior, notice how it makes you feel.Thinking in the way you would expect them to, what thoughts are you having about these behaviors?
  • How do people react to this person and her or his behavior? Maintaining the best you can, your idea of how they think and feel, How does this person feel about the responses they are getting?

You aren’t them and you can only approximate how you think they think, however it is more accurate than just imagining yourself having their experiences. You would make different choices than they would and you want to know why they made their choices.


Before I sign off, I have to put in a plug for a useful question about communication:

Before you speak, ask yourself:

is it kind,

is it necessary,

is it true,

does it improve on the silence?” – Sai Baba of Shirdi

©2016 Stephen L. Martin

Painting: The Parable of the Good Samaritan by Giacomo Conti

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