Packing our bags and leaving our worst selves for our better ones


Empathy isn’t just something that happens to us—a meteor shower of synapses firing across the brain—it’s also a choice we make: to pay attention, to extend ourselves. It’s made of exertion, that dowdier cousin of impulse. Sometimes we care for another because we know we should, or because it’s asked for, but this doesn’t make our caring hollow. The act of choosing simply means we’ve committed ourselves to a set of behaviors greater than the sum of our individual inclinations: I will listen to his sadness, even when I’m deep in my own. To say ‘going through the motions’—this isn’t reduction so much as acknowledgment of the effort—the labor, the motions, the dance—of getting inside another person’s state of heart or mind.

This confession of effort chafes against the notion that empathy should always arise unbidden, that genuine means the same thing as unwilled, that intentionality is the enemy of love. But I believe in intention and I believe in work. I believe in waking up in the middle of the night and packing our bags and leaving our worst selves for our better ones.

~ Leslie Jamison, “The Empathy Exams

Credits: Photo: Angelhead. Quote: Invisiblestories


  1. ♥️🔴 – my interpretation of a ‘love’ button

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Important insights!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautifully expressed 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very nice! To have empathy either spontaneous or requested is to have love in one’s heart. Without love, empathy wanes and disappears even if it was there at the start.


  5. Reblogged this on PhylTX.


  6. yes –


  7. I think I’ll need to make this a nightly exercise.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love this more than I can say. We must work to be our best selves. Period.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Like Sandy Sue. I love this so much. And since I am still awake at 3 am, it seems to be the perfect time for that exercise. Heaven knows I need to pack my bags and leave my worst self behind. So glad I read this, now.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Reblogged this on Makere's Blog and commented:
    Grateful for this tonight


  11. The day got away from me yesterday and I didn’t get a chance to read this, but so glad that I did now! Such wisdom here, and so beautifully expressed. This post enriches me, DK, as do many of yours do. Thank you….,

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: