If you’ve visited here much you know I’m a huge proponent of empathy. I believe it transforms characters to become more authentic in novels, it draws people closer together, diminishes the fierce intensity to judge, and provides countless opportunities for us to grow.Whether we’re trying to better understand our main characters or that family member who keeps confusing us into next week…
Here’s my I 8 Wednesday list of ways to step inside someone else’s shoes:Understand How She Communicates
Some are talkers. Some are writers. Some express freely. Some shy away. Some are passive aggressive. She has experienced life. She wants to share—how will she go about doing so?Consider Her Past
Everyone has been hurt. And everyone’s hurt places tell a story about who they are today. Scars, emotional or physical can stand out like the equator when we’re trying to understand the map of one’s soul.Share Her Dreams and Failures
She has hopes. She’s failed. Both have influenced the person she has become. Take a moment to imagine her dreaming…and failing. Is she inspired by People or National Geographic? Does she give up easily or dig in until her fingers bleed?Which Relationships Does She Value Most & Which Does She Fear Most
What’s that saying that we become most like the five people we spend the most time with? Who does she surround herself with? Who terrifies her? Why?From R.E.M. to Early When She Rises
Our thoughts are often freshest in the morning, most unscathed by the distractions of the day. Attempt to wake up in her skin, facing the day as she might. Is she wide-eyed, bounding from the bed full of exuberance or dragging herself to the coffee pot as she smashes sleep further into her eyes?Work with Her
Does she like what she does? If not, does she have a hobby or something she pours herself into outside of work that fulfills her? Take on her hobby for one day.Take Yourself out of the Equation
We’re all influenced by our own life experiences. Make a concerted effort to view the world as she might. Strip yourself of any preconceived judgment likely waiting to pounce. Does she handle her emotions and take on the world vastly different than you do?What is She Hiding
So much of communication is unspoken. What do you suspect she hasn’t told anyone? Or only a trusted few? What does this secret say about her?I believe empathy is one of the most effective antidotes to judgment. We all judge, it’s part of our wiring. But there is a way to salve the sting of our judgment—by cultivating a spirit of empathy.
When is the last time you felt compelled to become more empathic toward someone?
*photos by stock.XCHNG