What we understand about empathy now far exceeds what we once understood about it, and some of the evidence we have accrued is absolutely fascinating. For example, a research team from Oxford led by Eiluned Pearce evaluated differences between the brains of our species and that of Neanderthals. What they found was incredible. In short, the larger and differently-proportioned Neanderthals had a greater space in their brains focused on eyesight and coordination, and a significantly smaller portion of their brains’ functioning devoted to social interaction. Combining this information with the archeological evidence of Neanderthals moving in much smaller groups (and often even isolated) led the team to hypothesize that a very plausible reason Homo Sapiens lived on while Neanderthals died out was that, somewhere along the way when Neanderthals were moving through life almost on their own – we realized just how much that we need each other.Empathy Workbook and Curriculum
A symbiotic relationship is one where two organisms benefit from their relationship. Yes, we need others’ help at times, but yes, too, do others need our help. How can we know when others need us? One way, of course, occurs when they tell us; but for myriad reasons, people don’t or can’t always articulate what’s going on inside when they’re struggling. Luckily for them (and us), we have a crucial key to discerning when others are in need: empathy. On a macro-level, it is not underselling it to state that empathy is the cornerstone of human connection. On a very personal and individual level for you, however, having improved empathy can help you connect with others and help others connect with you. To that end, I believe the workbook you’re about to read is one of the most important workbooks you could ever read.
What Dr. Rich Pfeiffer does in these pages is a true service to all of us. He breaks down what could be presented as highly complex, esoteric information into easily understandable, relatable, and hands-on, readily applicable exercises. For example, he shows you how, with intentionality, you can augment your empathy even by engaging in the favorite pastime activities of reading novels or watching movies. He shows you how to understand yourself, how to use balanced, accurate language in both your self-talk and interpersonal communication, and he hands you a clear, achievable strategy for enhancing empathy.
Although having empathy for those who love you, agree with your beliefs and perspectives, and overtly seek to help you is naturally easier, the reality is that empathy is most needed in times when you encounter those who do not love you, do not agree with your beliefs and perspectives, and are not out to help you get along in this world. Still, as Dr. Pfeiffer demonstrates and helps you learn in this workbook, having advanced empathy skills will reduce your judgments, increase your connectedness, and provide you with a sense of hope for managing challenging situations. Since you cannot always change the outside world, but are the only person who always has complete and unrestricted access to your mind (something you can actually change), you alone can help yourself integrate the kind of understanding of the world-as-it-is that only empathy can bring. Dr. Pfeiffer lays out that path.
The more you immerse yourself fully into this workbook and experience these pages, the better your life will be. Dr. Pfeiffer is brilliant, one of the most compassionate people I have ever encountered, and he lives the message he teaches. He is a wonderful example of living, practicing empathy, and the path he has laid out in the subsequent pages is one that can make an immediate difference in your life. Yes, as he shows you, there are direct and phenomenal benefits to your life by increasing empathy; but as you will see with honing advanced empathy, even more importantly than the individual benefits that you will gain from this workbook are the benefits that the world will gain by your empathy.
– Christian Conte, Ph.D., Author of Walking Through Anger
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