The Power of Empathy

NVC (Nonviolent Communication) is my favorite practice in life.  Much of the reason is the practice of empathy:  for self and for others.  The healing and connecting power of empathy.  I want to share some of my favorite quotes with you that give you the sense of my passion.

Photo courtesy of Andrzej
Photo courtesy of Andrzej

Humanistic psychologist Carl Rogers says, “It’s astonishing how elements that seem insoluble become soluble when someone listens.  How confusions that seem irremediable become relatively clear flowing streams when one is heard.”

The Chinese philosopher Chuang-Tsu stated that true empathy requires listening with the whole being:  The hearing that is only in the ears is one thing.  The hearing of the understanding is another.  But the hearing of the spirit is not limited to any one faculty, to the ear, or to the mind.  Hence it demands the emptiness of all faculties.  When the faculties are empty, then the whole being listens.  There is then a direct grasp of what is right there before you that can never be heard with the ear or understood with the mind.

“We do not believe in ourselves until someone reveals that deep inside us something is valuable, worth listening to, worthy of our trust, sacred to our touch. Once we believe in ourselves we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” e. e. cummings

“An essential part of true listening is the discipline of bracketing, the temporary giving up or setting aside of one’s own prejudices, frames of reference and desires so as to experience as far as possible the speaker’s world from the inside, step in inside his or her shoes. This unification of speaker and listener is actually and extension and enlargement of ourselves, and new knowledge is always gained from this. Moreover, since true listening involves bracketing, a setting aside of the self, it also temporarily involves a total acceptance of the other. Sensing this acceptance, the speaker will feel less and less vulnerable and more and more inclined to open up the inner recesses of his or her mind to the listener. As this happens, speaker and listener begin to appreciate each other more and more, and the duet dance of love is begun again.” M. Scott Peck, MD

“In this culture the soul and the heart too often go homeless. Listening creates a holy silence. When you listen generously to people, they can hear the truth in themselves, often for the first time. And in the silence of listening, you can know yourself in everyone. Eventually you may be able to hear, in everyone and beyond everyone, the unseen singing softly to itself and to you.” Rachel Naomi Remen, My Grandfather’s Blessings

The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer. Henry David Thoreau

Amazingly inspiring words, yes?  🙂

In peace and love, Teresa

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