Exercising Your Empathy

Uncover your Nature, design your Nurture.

Make personal growth an essential hobby, and you elevate your chance of stumbling upon your best self. If done well, this process will develop your empathy muscle, which, while initially aimed inward, will eventually instinctively shine onto others. An increase in the existence of empathetic mindsets boosts the positive potential of the world!

There are no excuses here, because the only one holding you back from embarking on this journey is yourself, and it’s never too late to start.

The process itself is not overly complicated, as it’s comprised of two parts: first you determine the components of yourself over which you have no control (your Nature), and then you work toward manufacturing skills in the zones in which you deem yourself incomplete (your Nurture.) Your Nature is what you’re given, your Nurture is what you take.

The most important rule is you must be totally honest with yourself throughout both sides of the process.

The first part should include some enjoyable introspection as you reflect upon positive talents and habits that are innate to you. These are the types of qualities that others may be envious of, and in these moments it’s useful to recognize how blessed you are. Take time to stretch out your gratitude muscle. Keep in mind though, if you’re evaluating yourself at a proper inner-depth, part one will also include the more uncomfortable task of noting your native cracks that you wish to patch.

It’s only after identifying both of these groups of inherent traits that the second half of the process kicks in. If Nature is about realizing who you are effortlessly, Nurture is about determining where to best exert effort to become your best self.

A very broad example is if you’re naturally a free spirit but you want to increase your self-discipline, reading a self-improvement book and learning to be diligent in implementing the techniques associated with a more goal-oriented life might be worth pursuing. To flip the example, if every moment of your life feels regimented, consider taking up a calming practice such as yoga on a regular basis, and living by its spiritual teachings outside of the boundaries of the class.

These illustrations may seem obvious, but the level of success for Nurture is determined by following through with action. You can’t think your way to better habits, you’ve got to go achieve as if you’re already the person you want to be.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that, at best, what works for one person will at least need minor tweaks in order to work for you. Everyone’s starting place is different, and there really aren’t effective shortcuts on the road to your personal finish line. You can’t rely on others to answer the question of who you are, but you can use them to gather feedback and encouragement for your journey. Get comfortable keeping your eyes on your own path, because you’re only failing one person if you don’t take the time to quietly examine yourself.

No one who’s telling the truth is saying this will happen instantaneously, but this is an ageless, lifelong quest. The target for today is one baby step toward the goal, because 365 of those are a hell of a lot of progress for one year of life. 

Empathy thrives on conquering personal fear and amassing little victories. Start today to make tomorrow a little bit easier, and whenever in doubt: fake it til you make it (but be it when you see it.)

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