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How To Love and Be Loved | Part 3: Developing Empathy for Yourself and Others

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If we don’t address and heal the wounds that we experience in life, we will inevitably go on to wound other people. In a special series of six podcasts, I talked to former NFL star Joe Ehrmann about how we can turn the wounds of the past into our purpose for the future. Here are the top takeaways from the third episode, in which we discussed why developing empathy for ourselves and others is a crucial step in helping us to understand and move forward from the hurts of the past.

If We Don’t Heal Our Own Wounds, We Will Wound Others 

To cover the wounds that we have suffered in life, many of us develop rigid defense mechanisms and destructive life patterns. Because we don’t identify and address our own hurts – and the damaging life patterns and behaviors that happen as a result – we in turn become the wounders and go on to hurt the people we most love and care about.

Empathy Is Key

Empathy is the capacity to feel what other people are feeling. It’s part of our nature, but it also has to be nurtured. There are two kinds of empathy. Positive empathy is when you can understand what somebody else is feeling, and you move towards them with love and acceptance. Negative empathy is when you can feel what somebody else is feeling, but it triggers a negative response, making you feel bad or taking you back to your own wound. This then prompts you to move away from and reject other people. To start healing the wounds of your past, you must develop positive empathy for yourself and others. When you do this, you become a wounded healer with the capacity to teach, lead and help others make sense of their own stories.

The Journal Is the Journey

Keeping a detailed journal really kickstarts the healing process. When you start writing, you are able to dig deeper and identify certain patterns and behaviors in your life.  Don’t edit what you put on the page, just vent all of your emotions. No-one else will read it but you! Being as open and honest about your feelings as possible will help you to heal old wounds and move forward. Journaling is a powerful way to give you a coherent narrative and really connect the dots in your life story.

Listen to the latest episode of “It’s a Good Life” to learn more.

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