Why empathy is crucial to intentional living

When I made the decision to live an intentional life I was met by much resistance from many of the people closest to me.  I realized because I made the decision to move forward and it did not benefit them I appeared to be selfish as I was “leaving them behind”.  I was called cold and heartless by the people I loved most and the people I thought loved me the most.  It was a very painful time for me but I had to keep moving forward.  I knew that the last thing I could be described as is a heartless person therefore this had nothing to do with me so much as it did with them.

It was around that same time that I had heard something that changed the way I connected with people from that day forward.  “Everyone thinks they are the good guy”.  So simple but so profound.  In every situation no matter the person, the circumstance, or the subject….every person involved believes that what they are doing the right thing.  From that moment forward I always put myself in that persons shoes.  This helped me identify and connect with people on a deeper plain.

Empathy, the act of understanding and knowing how another person feels has helped me in moving forward easier.  When I look back at that time in my life I can now fully understand why they gave me so much resistance.  Their life was changing without their permission.  They were scared.  It was fear of the unknown that caused them to react the way they did.  There is nothing I could do about that however just knowing why has really helped me.

I share this with you in hopes that it will help you understand why people do the things they do.  It is important that you do not change your course as a result of their actions rather make your course smoother as you will have a greater understanding as to why they feel the way they do.

Next time you find yourself putting a label on someone…”oh, she’s crazy…or he’s an asshole”…whatever it is…take a moment and try to see things from their perspective. Very often it is either a person’s fear or fearlessness that we are labeling…not the person themselves.  It is their behavior that we are seeing which is as result of something bigger. It has nothing to do with who that person is at their innermost core rather what obstacles they are currently facing…that is what we are seeing and labeling.

I invite you to use an empathetic approach today.  You will find that you stay much calmer when you are faced with obstacles.  Please share those stories with me!