2010 – The Year of Empathy – 2/1/10

It is the beginning of February, and I have had more than a few inquiries as to the progress of the book.

As mentioned in the last post, I completed the first draft at the end of November, and it is everything I intended it to be. And then, because this is real life, that success awakened a new and essential process for me to go through that has added a wonderful new dimension to the what the book is focused on, and breathed new life into the value of what the book will offer.

The entire month of December became a very focused and fairly intense journey into the healing power of empathy, as one client after another needed support in making a crucial shift in their lives by embracing a new depth of empathy for themselves, or for another.
It seems no accident that at the same time, various writers in different social spheres, especially politics, were focusing on empathy as the crucial human quality needed to transform the current polarized impasse in American culture.

The depth of the work I did with clients in December had a profound impact on me. Empathy is not a new idea or process for me – it is a core part of the healing pathways in the book, and has been the essential way in which I hold space for clients for over 20 years. What was new was the fact that while all this client work was taking place, we have a President who openly embraces empathy as an essential American value, and it was beginning to look like he was faltering. There was a sense of urgency that empathy cannot fail at this time in our lives, personally and culturally.

And then in the last few weeks, President Obama came through with two tremendously mature expressions of empathy in the State of the Union Address and the GOP Q&A. For the moment, he’s back, and empathy has spoken broadly and spoken well.

But there is a tremendous empathy deficiency in our culture. There are a number of ways that you can define family and relationship dysfunction, and one essential definition is that dysfunction develops out of the breakdown of empathy. Withholding empathy is a powerful old school parenting technique meant to break the will of children and “discipline” them. There is a lot of that unconscious patterning around, still.

So I lovingly challenge you to make 2010 the year that you explore your capacity to bring empathy to yourself, first and foremost, and then to the people in your life. Our ability to give empathy to others is only as good as our ability to give it to ourselves. And without it, we are simply not going to learn the essential human lessons on how to stop destroying each other.

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