The Gift of Empathy

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Posted December 25, 2018 from Philippines

The sisterhood in the World Pulse community has been an unexpected blessing. I never thought I would be part of this global community when I began my journey here a year ago. Writing my journey on this online space helped me find a direction in life. I felt braver every time I post a personal story. Here, my pain and fears as a woman are validated. The culture of support and encouragement here allow me to see myself from a new lens: my experiences matter; I am valued; I am enough. 

The stories of women here inspire me to aspire for a life with a societal impact; a life that puts a dent to the status quo, and a life that leaves a legacy to follow. I began to dream: if these sisters are healing this wounded world, so can I. 

Being in World Pulse made me optimistic of the future. I am learning from the journey of women leaders here. My heart is burning with excitement every time I read their updates. When self-doubt discourages me, I draw strength from the stories of persistence, diligence, and resilience shared here. 

I could say that I am now a different woman today compared to the woman I was before joining World Pulse. Here I discovered the liberating power of telling our stories.

Today, I want to honor the woman who introduced World Pulse to me. I was an ordinary student in highschool and a self-confessed fan of a schoolmate's leadership. She was a popular debater and student-leader back then. 

We were formally introduced in college. It surprised me how humble she was (and still is) because when she speaks, everyone listens.  Both her voice and message are powerful. She is an excellent communicator. 

Much of our conversations  happen online. I have shared depths of my soul to her more than the people I usually talked to. In those online exchange, she modeled empathy to me. There was no cinch of judgment; it was more of listening and seeking to understand. It was affirming the feelings felt on an experience were valid. It was more on honoring a journey.

It reminds me of a cliché , " You don't know what you’re missing until it arrives". I realized I hungered for empathy all my life. I observe that, generally, our country has a culture of invalidation. Empathy is a foreign concept to most of us, if not all.

I was once a call center agent. During a series of training as a technical support, the trainer incorporated empathy on addressing customers' concerns. We had to recite our empathetic statements one by one, and we should sound that we truly understand how the customers feel when a technical problem disrupt their schedule. He said empathy is not practiced in the Philippines, and the foreign company felt it needs to teach Filipinos to emphathize to truly serve its customers. By experience, irate customers calmed down after we sincerely emphathized with them. 

Empathy by definition is "the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner" (Merriam Dictionary). 

Empathy is saying, "I hear you. I understand where you are coming from. I would feel bad/mad/sad/lost/confused/hurt, too." 

Deewai, or Dyan, has given me a lot of gifts throughout the years; material gifts that I have no capacity to reciprocate as of now. But the most priceless among them all was her gift of empathy. It is powerful and life-changing. It facilitates healing to a traumatic soul. 

It was Dyan who encouraged me to join World Pulse. I never thought I would benefit anything from this online space. It was intimidating for me at the beginning. She has global connections outside World Pulse, and had received international and local  recognitions. She was also a WP Featured Storyteller awardee. I thought one should be a writer of high calibre like her. I told her I was not as good in writing. She said there was no need to compare.

Out of my respect for her, I decided to join. I told her my first post would be about my experience with Typhoon Kai-tak, but I was unsure how to write the piece. She gave me a keyword: empathy. 

So I wrote my story while taking into account the women living in disaster-prone areas. That piece won me a Featured Storyteller award. It built-up my confidence in writing and in myself. I've become a braver woman since then.

Dear Dee, you have no idea what an impact you've brought into my life. I treasure you more than you ever know. Thank you for sharing opportunities with me, for encouraging me to join World Pulse. For years, I got stuck inside a cocoon. When it was time to leave, I didn't know how to fly. This nurturing space helped me fix my broken wings and use them to fly. I've found genuine, supportive, emphathetic women here. Thanks to you.  Thank you for the friendship, love, and generosity. Thank you for the gift of empathy.  

I know in my heart that you were born to do great things, far beyond what we can imagine today. I hope to see you become one of our country's government leaders because we need women decision-makers like you. 

 

Happy birthday, Dee!

Comments 9

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jlanghus
Dec 26, 2018
Dec 26, 2018

Hi Karen,

Thanks for your loving, beautiful message and post about empathy and gratitude for World Pulse and your friend, Dee. We're so glad and fortunate that you decided to share your beautiful voice with us all here. It's been lovely to see your blossom and flourish. Perhaps you will be one of your country's leaders, as well:-)

Hope you're having a great day!

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 25, 2018
Dec 25, 2018

Hello, Jill,

Empaths like you make World Pulse a place for healing and growth. Thank you for being a consistent encourager and a trusted friend. So happy to be here. That's why I'm truly grateful for Dyan for introducing this online community of sisterhood.

Awww. Thanks for that "perhaps". Haha. Who knows?

Have a great day, too!

jlanghus
Dec 26, 2018
Dec 26, 2018

Hi Karen:-)

Yay... good to hear! You're very welcome.

Exactly. The sky is the limit, right?!

Hope you're having a great day!

Karen Quiñones-Axalan
Dec 26, 2018
Dec 26, 2018

Yes, the sky is the limit. <3

jlanghus
Dec 26, 2018
Dec 26, 2018

Yay:-)

Olutosin
Dec 27, 2018
Dec 27, 2018

Dear Dyan, Happy Birthday to you!!!!
Thanks for introducing us to our sister. We love both of you. Happy 2019 in advance.

I love you, sister Olutosin.

Dyan Mabunga Rodriguez
Dec 28, 2018
Dec 28, 2018

Rereading this.

Thank you, Kaye.

You only have a glimpse of my gratefulness that you are part of my life.

You also have glimpse of how grateful I am for you, Dee. Whenever I see the things you've given me, I remember you and pray for you. May you be blessed in all of your endeavors, beyond what your heart desires. Hugs to you and Kaleb.