Post 1 in Dad Posts series.
As I watch you grow, I observe an endearing capacity to empathize. Maybe we all have this as kids, maybe not, but watching as you interact with kids your age and even adults I can tell you have a natural ability to understand and share the feelings of those around you.
This ability is what I believe draws the flocks of toddlers you call friends to your side and why other adults are so quick to comment on what a good kid you are. It’s why you are able to consider the kids who might be mean to you your friends and gives you a rare capacity to quickly forgive those who may have hurt you.
My advice to you is never lose this. As adults we tend to become hardened to others and in an attempt to protect our own feelings we start to diminish or lose the capacity to empathize. Sure, this may protect us from short-term pain, but it closes us off from so many other benefits in life. Being able to empathize allows us to understand (not necessarily agree with) sometimes opposing points of view. Holding on to and cultivating your ability to empathize will allow you to be a better:
- Problem solver – opening you up to other points of view and solutions
- Friend – giving you the ability to relate to many different people and supporting them in the way they need most
- Leader – building stronger relationships that will naturally position you to be someone others will listen to and follow
- Spouse – allowing you to be open and emotionally available to the person who will likely be most important to you someday
- Parent – making you a strong yet loving father who works to understand his children and leads by example in demonstrating what are important character traits.
You will almost certainly run into those who will treat your empathy as a weakness. These people are the ones who need your empathy the most. They have been hurt in someway that has caused them to close off to those around them and in so doing caused others to close off from them. Know that your capacity to empathize truly is a strength and a trait that will always serve you in being the best person you can be.