Refusing to Age out of Empathy

By Allison Annala, Regular ContributorAugust 4, 2015

As a self-proclaimed “lover of all,” I struggle with the idea of hatred. I struggle with the concept of two people never seeing eye to eye. In my heart of hearts, I have always felt the need to be a peacekeeper and believe, with everything in me, that we are fully capable of creating a more tolerant and beautiful world.

Watching a TED talk this week, I came across a concept that struck me. It sounds incredibly simple; though, I know if it were, we would be living in a much different world.

“Empathy gets created the moment we imagine ourselves in someone else’s shoes.” –Aspen Baker

Now, this sentiment is not lost on me. I know this is a concept we teach children from an early age… but when is it that adults quit adhering to their own advice?  When do we forget that we disagree because we don’t understand? What age are we when we stop asking questions? If only we were able to maintain that empathetic mind frame…


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It’s so easy to forget. You know that when someone cuts you off in traffic- of course they are a jack ass! When you’re waiting around for an important call and the caller misses the prearranged call time- they are ignorant. When you don’t feel heard at work and your effort is never noticed- your boss is definitely a jerk who doesn’t care about anyone but himself.

But what if you knew that that woman cutting you off in traffic is a single mom who is late to pick up her kids from school because she had to work late at her second job.

What if you knew that the business associate who was supposed to call you back had to deal with an emergency in his office and even though he wanted to call you back, there was an immediate problem to solve on his end.

What if you knew that your jerk of a boss was taking care of an aging parent with Alzheimer’s Disease and that even though he wants to compliment you on your work ethic, his mind and heart are somewhere else completely.

Would it change the way you looked at these people if you knew what they were going through? I know it helps put things into perspective for me. My world is only a tiny bubble of the grand scheme of things, and sometimes it’s easy to get lost in our own worlds.

In my world, I play the leading role, but my world intersects with thousands of other worlds; some of those world’s I’ll play a supporting role, and other worlds I’m merely an extra.

But as a human being, my job is to respect the worlds around me, play the part that is requested, and try my best understand the other beautiful lives around me.

Tolerance. Acceptance. Forgiveness. Empathy.

It’s important that we teach our children these ideals. We don’t age out of being human beings, so it is important to remember that these are all concepts that can help us live a more meaningful, beautiful, and love-centered life.

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How has empathy helped you get through the tough days? How do you remember to be empathetic, even when it's tough? Tell us below!

About Allison

ALLISON_ANNALA_writer_bio_(1).jpgA gymnast since age 4, Allison uses the life lessons learned through the sport to help young women discover their greatness! She is a huge advocate for girls and women, particularly when it comes to body image and self-worth! Along with coaching, Allison now teaches at her Alma Matter, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. She loves sharing her passion for gymnastics with women of all ages and her passion for life and love on her blog She is so thrilled to be an advocate for IATG and can’t wait to help inspire women all over the world!
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