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Empathy Seminar

Updated: Mar 27, 2023

Public seminar

Human beings were originally created in the image of God and were furnished with a true and sound knowledge of the Creator and spiritual things, in will and heart with righteousness, and in all emotions with purity. Indeed, the whole human being was holy. (Article 1 of The Third and Fourth Main Point of Doctrine of Canons of Dort) In other words, not only reason and will, but also emotions were part of God's good creation.

However, rebelling against God at the devil's instigation and by their own free will, they deprived themselves of these outstanding gifts. Instead, they brought upon themselves blindness, terrible darkness, futility, and distortion of judgment in their minds; perversity, defiance, and hardness in their hearts and wills; and finally, impurity in all their emotions. (Article 1 of The Third and Fourth Main Point of Doctrine of Canons of Dort)

Therefore, sanctification must heal and recover not only intellect and will, but also emotions. For this purpose, we must understand emotions. However, we have stereotypes about emotions that 1) they are irrational, 2) we should feel differently, 3) negative emotions like anger or sorrow are bad, and 4) we should not expose our emotions, or those who do are weak.

But these beliefs are wrong. Emotions are chemical responses in our brains that signal the need to control and ensure safety. We cannot turn them on or off by our will alone; instead, we can only learn to feel them in a more controlled way. The more we recognize and identify our emotions, the better we can decide how to respond to them. (John Savage, Listening & Caring Skills)

The ability to hear, understand, and accept others' emotions and thoughts is called empathy. Through this seminar, I hope we can learn how to empathize in our communication so that we can better hear, understand, and accept others, and help them heal and recover from deep emotional distress.

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