Happy Valentine’s Day!

Being in a relationship isn’t always rainbows. Sometimes the most romantic moments look like this:

“Can I tell you something and ask you not to try to fix it?,” I asked, while sitting at a little sunlit-cafe in Morocco. “Yes,” he said.

“I’m feeling really depressed right now.”

And, while a million solution-based thoughts swirled through his head, he stayed silent, and listened.

This is a story of EMPATHY, the greatest gift you can give to anyone you love.

Empathy, one of Six Seconds eight competencies for growing emotional intelligence, is the gift of meeting a person exactly where they are. Instead of telling them they’re fine, talking about your own related stories, or shutting them down, you just be there. And be quiet. And listen.

When others share their feelings with you, do you respond with empathy? In the story I told you earlier, Michael, my partner, gave that gift to me by listening without trying to fix. And it was so helpful.

After telling him I was feeling depressed, I start feeling more accepting of my feelings. I still felt somber and sad, but placing words to my emotions + setting those words free by saying them out loud encased the emotions in acceptance. Ironically, naming an emotion actually lessens its intensity, which put me, instead of the depression, in the position of power.

With Michael empathetically listening, being there with me without trying to ‘fix’ me, all of these emotions felt accepted and safe. 

Do you give others the gift of empathy?

This week, I invite you to do an experiment of GIVING the gift of empathy.

How could you benefit from the gift of empathy?

The experiment:

For just this week, try fully listening when others talk, especially when it’s hard for you. Here are some to-do’s for this week’s experiment:

1. Let there be ‘awkward’ silence.

2. Let your face do the speaking, by nodding and maintaining eye contact.

3. Resist the urge to offer suggestions. Instead, stay silent or repeat what they said back to them. 

All of this may feel silly at first, but it’s a one-week experiment. You can do it, and your loved ones will be grateful!

For right now, close your eyes for a moment, and imagine a loved one telling you something difficult. Practice, in your mind, doing each of the to-do items above.

You’re ready to go out in the world and do it! 


Tap into the experience in your body. How did it feel in your body to imagine your empathy experience? Is your heartbeat or breathing different? Do you feel different anywhere else?

If simply imagining the experience is difficult for you, what could motivate you to try it in real life? What deeper goal does practicing empathy serve?

Do you generally give more empathy or receive more empathy? How might your life look differently if you changed this ratio even 10% to the opposite side?

PS— You know what’s be the hardest kind of empathy for me? SELF-EMPATHY. In Feb 25th’s virtual Workshop for Perfectionists, we’ll talk about research-backed tools (that I’ve personally tested!) for increasing self-compassion. I’d love for you to join us!

See you next week!

Illuminate is a weekly e-mail series that provides practical tips + galvanizing inspirations for practicing an emotionally intelligent life. In our time together, we’ll operate from the assumption that you have all the wisdom you need inside of yourself + that you have a purpose the world needs to see. We will explore the tools + techniques to illuminate your own inner wisdom and purpose. If you’d like to receive this free gift of goodness in your inbox every week, subscribe here.

Maria Jackson

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