Tag Archives: Empathy

Taper Tantrum,

via Daily Prompt: Tantrum


Graphic: clsinvest.com

Back in the 80s I took a minor in economics just for fun. Some people see economics as smoke and mirrors or star gazing at best. But I found it fascinating, it is a different logic, but it is a logic and it is a diverse as a field of practice, I think that’s what fascinated me.

Back in 2013 there was what economists call a taper tantrum. In the US as in some other economies, when there is a slowing of the economy and the risk is a crash (as per the graphic above) the Federal Reserve pumps money into the market to kick it along a bit (known in the trade as Quantitative Easing). In time spending cannot be sustained so the money must be slowed, and this is called Tapering, in short the money injection into the economy is tapered off rather than abruptly cut. The result in 2013 was what was referred to as an investor tantrum, an angry reaction to the tapering, hence, taper tantrum.

A tantrum about economics is akin to a tantrum about any other issue. When a child or adult has a tantrum it is because they have been slowed or thwarted in some way. One of my children once threw a tantrum in a supermarket because he couldn’t have something that was suddenly imperative. But the supply of money, and parental interest was tapered, and there was a predictable reaction.

The lessons we learned over the next couple of years are lessons we learned for life. Whether child or adult, a temper tantrum requires a particular response (other than ignoring it): empathy (acknowledging the emotions), listening, and resisting blaming. Not always, but often, you’ll get to the bottom of the tanrum, and in the least, you’ll maintain an open communication. Overall, you’re building a strong foundation of trust for the relationship. The principle of valuing the other, listening and holding the space for them to feel that they can trust you to hear their plight helps to diffuse the situation and bonds the relationship. One might taper the negative input, but love and compassion should be qualitatively and quantitatively increased.

I like what Thich Nhat Hanh said: “When you look deeply into your anger, you will see that the person you call your enemy is also suffering. As soon as you see that, the capacity for accepting and having compassion for them is there.”

He was speaking into a different context, but the principle is the same once you trade the word enemy for loved one, friend, colleague … love thy intemperate  neighbour.

the pressure I feel
my heart is drowning fast
ah, look, a warm smile

©Paul Cannon




Filed under Economics, Haiku, history, life, mindfulness, quote, self-development

You Haul

via Daily Prompt: Haul

Scan 2.jpeg

That day! Moving out of home for the second time, this time permanently. The solemn art of leaving one family to start another. 1983, and the year Lyn and I got married, left Perth, and went to live on the family farm. The trailer we are loading is not a U-Haul by brand but a Coates Hire Service – Move It. But a U-Haul by any other name. Looking back it was a fun day really, and we hauled a lot of gear in a couple of trailers and my panel van, and it was trouble free.

What we weren’t fully in tune with at that point was that we were hauling other stuff as well, what we loosely refer to as emotional baggage. And that took time, patience, awareness, deep listening and support to release. Empathy won out and the baggage has somewhat reduced.


The stored painful realites and fictions of life can be a massive burden if not acknowledged, spoken and released. Carrying alone can be crushing. Charles Dickens once said: “No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to everyone else.” We can’t carry another’s baggage, we can’t make someone drop theirs, but we can share in lightening that baggage through empathic support. There’s that old saying, that it takes a village to raise a child. I think it takes a patient village, a friendship or two,  to help us see the baggage and to begin to let go.




Filed under community, life, love, mindfulness, psychology, self-development

Sympathize or Empathize?

via Daily Prompt: Sympathize


Brene Brown has been a sensation because of her research into shame and guilt, vulnernability, and empathy, and the new outcomes including herown self reflection. Her TED talk (all her talks are, in my view) is a wonderful learning experience –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psN1DORYYV0&t=17s

Nothing wrong with sympathy but Einfuhlung, or feeling into, known as empathy, is much stronger and far more supportive. Sympathy is – I care about your suffering. Empathy is – I feel your suffering.

Empathy therefore relies on friendship, close, intimate friendship, or community. Empathy cannot work where you are detached, or distant from a person, it is the ability to feel for the other person as if you are them, or you are in their very situation. Sympathy does work in abstraction, you can feel sad for someone but yet not share their perspective. In his novel “The Forgotten Village” John Steinbeck says: “It means very little to know that a million Chinese are starving unless you know one Chinese who is starving.” (from: “The Grapes of Wrath, a Literary Journal, Gerald Haslam, p.2) Steinbeck makes a great point.

I don’t mind a bit of sympathy, but in the end, I really value the depth of empathy. so, if you’re coming my way, empathise.




Filed under life, mindfulness, psychology, self-development

Sympathy or Empathy?

via Daily Prompt: Sympathy

I can be sympathetic, I think many people are. Sympathy is wonderful on face value, that warm feeling of mutuality when a problem is disclosed, the sense of compassion or at least commisseration, agreement. But if I’m the one with the problem I really desire empathy. Empathy is when someone can actually feel what I’m experiencing, someone can see what I see, stand where I stand. For me, sympathy is welcome, but empathy trumps sympathy every time, it goes deeper.



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