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What We Need Most


Imagine being in your 40s and deciding that after years of immense suffering, you have little choice but to get divorced. You come from an orthodox Christian family. You have children who will be devastated. And now you have to break the news to your parents who you know will be wrecked by the news.

Now imagine being the parent in this scenario, to have your grown child who you thought was doing well, tell you that they've decided to get divorced. How do you think you would respond?

Parent A's Inner Dialogue:

Why? What happened? I thought you were doing well. What about the kids? I know marriage can be difficult and there are times when we think we can't continue, but we all go through those periods and gut through it. Please go to counselling together. You owe it to yourself and to your kids to do everything possible to fix this.

Parent B's Inner Dialogue:

I'm terribly sad to realize how much you must have suffered. Knowing you as I do, you must have struggled with this decision for a long time. I'm so, so sorry that you went through that kind of darkness on your own. I have loved you more than life itself since you came into this world, and this will never change.

I believe most would agree that Parent B's heart is what we would be most grateful to have in our lives. Such inner dialogue can only come from a heart that is abundant in love and able to deeply feel another person's emotions.

Empathy is the quality of being able to transcend the limited lens with which we view and process the world, and to profoundly feel another person's reality. It's not something that can be offered with a purely intellectual approach.

I believe that empathy is what we need most to thrive. It's not an essential physical need like that for air, water, nutrition, sleep, and temperature regulation. But empathy is just as important to our well-being.

Not everyone can offer empathy - narcissists by definition lack it. Sociopaths know how to fake empathy to manipulate others to get what they want, but they lack genuine empathy and remorse.

The point is that heartfelt empathy is a truly special quality that can be powerfully healing for both the receiver and the giver.

If it isn't natural for us to be empathetic but we see the value in developing this quality, it's possible to grow it - it's simply a matter of deeply wanting to show others how much we care about them.

Most of us have a choice. For those we are closest to in life, do we wish to be a Parent A? Or would we rather have our loved ones remember us for being a Parent B?


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I bet you most parents( even empathetic ones) think A, at least as their first reaction, and then, when they get over the shock, they come to B. Parents are humans too.