Empathy Transforms…Us.

I am researching topics to include in a class I am developing entitled “Keeping Healthcare Human”.  I was inspired to create this class because this is what I see as the biggest deficit in healthcare today: the inability for caregivers to engage with those they care for in a compassionate and humane way.

There are many reasons this happens. I would say if I had to pinpoint one main reason it would be this: we are overwhelmed. And although I haven’t done any scientific research on it, my intuition drives me to suspect that when we are overwhelmed, our brain seeks to simply and compartmentalize, reducing humans to more manageable objects to be dealt with rather than fellow human beings to be entered into relationship with.

My research led me to empathy…again. And this time I found this awesome TEDx talk by Paul Parkin. His talk took me deeper into empathy and how it works than I have ever thought of it before. There were a couple of things that were truly insightful about his talk, but the most eye-opening  for me was this: ultimately, empathy changes us.

He says, “Empathy forges communication that is inquisitive, that is non judgmental, that is validating and compassionate. And when we start to communicate in that way, the primary thing that it does is it changes us. It softens us. We see people in our lives differently. We re-write the narratives that we tell ourselves about others in the kindest ways possible.”

Oh how this is needed in healthcare today!

Empathy transforms not only the situation for the person receiving empathy, it also has the power to transform the giver of empathy. Hello, light bulb!!!

Listen, and be changed.





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