Empathy for Self-Gain: Liking Myself

Could developing my empathy skills help improve my own experience of life?

Experiments to test whether co-opting our natural, self-interested motivations can gain mutual benefit and emotional growth.

What are your thoughts on this idea?

Does this feel familiar?

“I often struggle to acknowledge what I like about myself- even just to myself- without a ‘but’, without confirmation from others or without an urge to ‘prove myself’ to others.

People are frequently confusing to me.”

Impact

“I frequently compare myself to others’ strengths and often experience a range of vulnerable feelings like: jealousy, insecurity, intimidation, stupidity, unworthiness, inadequacy.

These feelings can often motivate me to act towards others with: avoidance, rejection, arrogance, competitiveness, dismissiveness or spite because I get instant relief from experiencing the vulnerable feelings.

This decreases the acceptance and genuine, felt value of one another in my relationships. It also keeps me struggling with my self-esteem and living up to my potential.”

Empathy Experiment

Be explicit with myself:

Paying attention to all my feelings, thoughts and behaviour, name one thing, small or big that I like about myself. Am I following this with a ‘but’? Does this strength still exist, even when I would like to keep growing it or other people have a similar strength? Can I deliberately focus like this more often?

Contrast with them:

Noticing their actions, words, behaviour and choices, what could they feel and think about themselves sometimes? What’s similar? What’s different? What might their needs be too?

Share responsibility:

How might we act to value each other’s strengths more often? Can we learn together how to like ourselves even when we don’t get approval from others? Could we change what we focus on in our conversations and actions?

If you tried this, how did it work for you?

Maybe you already do something similar by using your understanding of others to develop your self-esteem and supportive relationships? Tell me about it!

"I often struggle to acknowledge what I like about myself- even just to myself- without a 'but', without confirmation from others or without an urge to 'prove myself' to others. People are frequently confusing to me." "I frequently compare myself to others' strengths and often experience a range of vulnerable feelings like: jealousy, insecurity, intimidation, stupidity, unworthiness, inadequacy. These feelings can often motivate me to act towards others with: avoidance, rejection, arrogance, competitiveness, dismissiveness or spite because I get instant relief from experiencing the vulnerable feelings. This decreases the acceptance and genuine, felt value of one another in my relationships. It also keeps me struggling with my self-esteem and living up to my potential." Paying attention to all my feelings, thoughts and behaviour, name one thing, small or big that I like about myself. Am I following this with a 'but'? Does this strength still exist, even when I would like to keep growing it or other people have a similar strength? Can I deliberately focus like this more often? Noticing their actions, words, behaviour and choices, what could they feel and think about themselves sometimes? What's similar? What's different? What might their needs be too? How might we act to value each other's strengths more often? Can we learn together how to like ourselves even when we don't get approval from others? Could we change what we focus on in our conversations and actions?

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