noun: “The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”
Last Wednesday afternoon I had the annual parent-teacher meeting for my son, Luca and truth be told, I was unconsciously a little nervous before it. I imagine many parents feel this before these meetings even if they already know how amazing their child is; there is usually a touch of “please be positive about my child, please tread carefully with what you say, I’m doing my best!” It takes courage to listen with an open and non-objective heart to potential criticism whether it is from our boss or a partner about ourselves, or a teacher about our child. However, I think that these experiences present us with a valuable opportunity to observe our reactions and behaviour; some people slip into defensive behaviour as their ego flares up at the slightest mention of faults.
One of the many gifts I have discovered in motherhood is that it highlights our own principles and what we believe is important to pass on to our children.
Having empathy is one of my main principles . To have empathy for others is an essential ingredient in creating a world of harmony and peace. Without it, it’s a dog-eat-dog world and who wants to bring children up in that environment?
After Luca’s lovely teacher outlined all his academic abilities she said: “I have to say he has great empathy for the rest of the children in his class”. At this point I wanted to get up and hug the lady. She is 8 and half months pregnant and I didn’t want to overwhelm her, but in my mind she could not have paid Luca a higher compliment. His English, Irish and maths seemed less signifcant as I value emotional intelligence so highly. It was like the time when I found out I was pregnant with Luca (the teacher’s baby bump reminded me of this special time) after a long road of infertility. I felt tears of joy starting to swell I was so proud of my son. I have to admit that I did take some of the credit myself – all those years of talking to him (nagging him!) and guiding him seem to be paying off.
This week, focus on the principles which are important to you and make a conscious choice to live by them. Empathy can come under many different names; kindness, care, compassion and above all, love. When we can see every creature and person is intrinsically connected to us it allows us to open our hearts, to reach out and express kindness in whatever way we can. As I have previously mentioned, in order to be strong enough to see the world like this you must first and foremost take care of yourself. Please continue to find time to care for yourself, reward yourself with a healthy lifestyle and mindset and allow empathy to flow. It is a win-win situation for all concerned!