"You don't have to think about doing the right thing. If you're for the right thing, then you do it without thinking."
~ Maya Angelou

October 31, 2013

Empathy Is...

by Daniel Jacob, MSW: Founder of Can You Hear Me?

Empathy Is...  The lessons we are provided can either reach us or leave us.  It would be fair to say that one's availability will determine such, and this is where my writing takes me...  It is always empowering to write about something that I feel so well, a part of me, my practice and how I see it unfold right before my eyes.  Like many, I was formally introduced to the concept of empathy in the early stages of my social work education and training.  It didn't take me long to realize though that I knew this concept way before this time in my life, I just didn't know it had a name.  Empathy Is...

I would say that my ability to see, listen, and feel through the eyes of another was born out of my own struggle and the tremendous learning (and awareness) that it has provided me over the years.  Empathy is something that I continue to cultivate and as an instructor I am fortunate to have ample opportunity to support and guide students within their own empathic development.  It is a process, one that I believe evolves as you do, grows as you choose to, and is available as long as you are.  Empathy Is...

There are so many wonderful opportunities to work on and learn from empathy.  Whether it is by choice or awareness, the lessons are always available as long as you are.  If you find yourself consumed with distraction or worry, you wouldn't be able to see it, let alone feel it.  Furthermore, if you think that your level of empathy is brought to you as a result of writing a paper or reading an article, you may be a little off.  Yes, there is ample learning to support your development and growth here, but the true depth of your ability to empathize lies within you.  As I mentioned previously (perhaps it didn't register with you at the time) we all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate it as we add to our personal self and professional practice.  Empathy Is...

My writing today was inspired by choice and chance, having another opportunity to empower and support is the outcome I strive towards.  The words may not find you immediately, but hopefully they will as you find yourself supporting another who is need.  Particularly when you are in that space and place that has you stuck in your head, challenged by what you can't control, rooted in the energy that will only project the opposite of who you want to be.  Empathy Is...

As I come to a close here I am leaving you with a great opportunity (and example) of the learning we can gain through the eyes of another, you get to decide how it finds you, Empathy Is...  It is always a pleasure connecting with those that can hear me, may this find you breathing well out there with your head up and heart open!

 About Author

Daniel Jacob, MSW Email
Founder of Can You Hear Me? External Field Instructor at University of Southern California School of Social Work MSW@USC. Daniel has a Masters in Social Work (Families and Children Practice/School Social Work). He is currently nearing the completion of the LCSW testing process. More about the man behind the mission⇢


  1. Good for you....empathy for me means to "to make the equal" with others. I introduce safe, skillful and nourishing touch as one approach to experience the "empathic connection and relationship." Unfortunately, touch is considered intrusive by psychiatry and psychology so many social workers follow their cold hearted practices. http://jerryvestinjuredwarrior.com

  2. Thank you Jerry for taking the time to hear my words, while sharing your experience. Wishing you continued success as you strive to support and empower injured warriors.

    May this find you breathing well...