Excerpt About Empathy

The Time to Hold Ourselves Tenderly

We learn from this brief overview of the superego that the attitude we need to have toward ourselves in our inquiry is not one of harshness. We perceive the harshness of self-directed aggression the more we recognize the superego at work. In time, we come to understand that what’s needed is a gentleness and an empathy toward the way we are. If we’re feeling weak, we don’t tell ourselves things that make us feel bad about that, and we don’t judge ourselves. We’re understanding, we’re kind, we’re empathic. If we’re feeling deficient, that’s not a time to criticize ourselves or compare ourselves with somebody else. It’s a time to hold ourselves tenderly. In time, instead of the superego’s harsh criticism, we experience more compassion and warmth, the attunement and empathy of a kind heart. Our inquiry begins to assume more gentleness in the way we perceive and recognize ourselves. We don’t just recognize where we are; we recognize where we are with kind, empathic attunement. And our responses become more and more suited to what we need.

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