“Empathy Is Not Endorsement”

How Forgiveness Facilitates Dignity

In his Ted Talk, “Empathy Is Not Endorsement,” Dylan Marron speaks to the power of empathy as a tool in humanizing one another. Recognizing that our relationships with ourselves impact and reflect our relationships with others, we can see that the same principles apply to offering ourselves the dignity, self-love and self-respect we need to heal.

When we stretch ourselves beyond righteous, justification, blame, judgment, and what makes sense or feels true to us, we open the door to their experience, their truth, their projection, their pain. Here is where we encounter mercy, compassion, and understanding, all of which lead to the awareness of choice. When someone lashes out at you with their pain, you have a choice to respond in kind or to shift the dynamic.

It may not always feel like a conscious choice! It’s important to remember that in your own humanity, you won’t always be able to show up with perfect compassion. You will be challenged by your own triggers to your pain. You will experience overwhelming emotions that invite you, too, to justify pouring your pain out at them.

So how do we stop the loop? Start with loving yourself when you are aware of causing harm. Own your experience, and your contribution to theirs – then forgive yourself for it.

Until we open our minds to see that we can cause the pain we desperately hope to avoid – in ourselves and in others – the possibility of integration, integrity and alignment of all aspects of our human experience (mental, emotional, physical, spiritual and social) alludes us.

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