Empathy for the Self Who Lives Within

Dr. Stephen Covey is widely known for his bestselling book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. One of his seven habits is very similar to empathy, the topic for our next series of blogs. He calls that habit “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Just like Dr. Covey writes about seven habits, we are writing about Empathy Training which has seven benefits to strengthen personal and professional relationships. The seven benefits are:

  • Improving connection and attachment
  • Strengthening teamwork
  • Soothing emotional wounds
  • Repairing relationship mistakes
  • Reducing anger
  • Increasing a sense of purpose
  • Enhancing empathy for the self who lives within

Empathy Training is a one day workshop that emphasizes experiential exercises. Half of the exercises teach you how to respond with empathy to another person’s feelings while the other half of the exercises teach you how to understand your own feelings. We call this second half “Empathy for the self who lives within.”

What follows is a poem written by Dr. Gottfurcht way back when he was “a teenager in love.” It tells the story after the breakup of his first love relationship and how he learned to trust his feelings more than his head. See how you feel reading the poem and what it means to you.

Inside Out

Feelings are inside before they’re out,
So know your inside, inside out.
Something bad happened; didn’t want to know.
Controlled my feelings, didn’t let it show.
By hiding the truth, I made a mistake.
Price I paid wasn’t worth the fake.

I fooled myself a short duration.
Ego was down; it needed inflation.
Finally, I fell, deeper than before
And was forced to count the score.
By seeing myself with all the pain,
Tears fell like thunderous rain.

Took some time to look and see
My true self, not as I wanted to be.
Acceptance was gradual as I saw
Through the deepest defenses of all.
Outside my ego, I made fun
Of trying to be number one.

I’m not the best, nor are you,
But I accept myself and things I do.
Life comes easier, it even flows.
Truth triumphs, my inside knows.
My outside lied; my inside cried;
And now my inside is my guide.

If you want to learn more about empathy for the self who lives within or empathy for others, you can enroll in the Empathy Training workshop at UCLA Extension on June 4.