Connecting Empathy with Self Control

Think about your old self. Are you the same person you were 10 years ago? In the documents, yes but in reality, you were travelling in time and have reached a place depending on the decisions you were taking every single day of all those 10 years. A little change on the steering wheel and you could have ended up very different than your present situation. It could have been better or it could have been worse.

Recently, I happened to stumble across a very good article on self control. The great insight can be used to effectively maximize your self control, be it for doing regular exercise, eating healthy diet, or for any big undertaking that needs fuel of continuous determination for many years.

“Empathy depends on your ability to overcome your own perspective, appreciate someone else’s, and step into their shoes. Self-control is essentially the same skill, except that those other shoes belong to your future self—a removed and hypothetical entity who might as well be a different person. So think of self-control as a kind of temporal selflessness. It’s Present You taking a hit to help out Future You.”

So interestingly, people who are too self centered and cannot build a perspective from the other person’s point of view will find it difficult to think deeply enough for their future selves as well. Being less empathetic with that future self implies that their actions will not be in line with what is best for them in the long term, but what is most desirable in the short term.

As strange as it sounds, if you find it difficult to stick to a new resolution towards building a better body (through regular exercise and eating healthy), or a better mind (through learning valuable knowledge and expanding your horizon), or forge a better career, you can start with flushing out negative judgements and concepts you manufactured for others and being a little empathetic with everyone. The mindset cannot be turned around in a single day but continuous practice will have far reaching effects for your future.

Finally, as a bonus, the empathy habit will make you happier as well. Usually people have few complaints about things and situations around them and most of the negativity is usually directed towards other persons. Once that is gone, there is hardly anything left to criticize.

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