It is almost the end of the year and 2020 bees for a special kind of self-reflection. Over the past few months, we’ve all spent more time inside
than probably any other year, allowing much time to look inside and try to make sense of things.
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Now that we are in the last month of 2021, it’s a great time to think about everything you’ve learned about yourself. After all, the path to self-acceptance and ultimately, self-love always begins with self-reflection. Have you found your personality’s quality that has been particularly helpful in coping with all the uncertainties this year? What new hobby or skills have you created?
Sit in a cosy place, put on some music, and consider what this year has taught you about yourself. If you’re slow to get started, here are 15
writing challenges to help you magazine self-reflexively in an empathetic, grateful way. (Remember: be kind to yourself!)
1 What are the three most important things you’ve learned this year?
2 Who has made the most significant impact on you this year?
3 Who or what inspires you the most?
4 What is one goal you have achieved this year?
5 What can you do today that you didn’t think was possible a year ago?
6 What success was you most proud of in 2020?
7 What is one habit you would like to change?
8 How do you maintain balance in your life?
9 What were your career advantages this year?
10 What excites you about the future?
11 What was the most challenging part of this year for me?
12 Know what you know now; what advice would you like in early 2020?
13 What are my most important goals for next year?
14 What is something that was hard at the beginning of the year that is easier now?
15 What have you learned about yourself this year, what surprised you?
4 ways to express empathy and support in writing
It has been an extremely challenging year, and for many, our usual support systems and coping mechanisms have been affected. Each person’s experience is uniquely their own, and to this end, each person can benefit from expressions of solidarity and support.
In times like these, the importance of Empathy to loved ones cannot be underestimated. Of all the soft skills in the world, the heart is the one
you need most to understand others’ thoughts and feelings.
Leslie Jamison, the author of empathy exams, defines the term as entering someone else’s area or indigenous country vicariously:
“Empathy comes from Greek Empathy – em (do) and pathos (feeling) – penetration, a kind of travel. This suggests that you enter another person’s pain as you enter another country, through immigration and customs, the border crossing through the query: What grows where you are? What are the laws? What kind of animals graze there?”
When we show empathy for others, we try to allow them to feel heard, a chance to feel supported and verified in what they think right, and a
safe space for processing.
In times of uncertainty, a great way to evoke Empathy and show people you care about is through writing. Whether you’re texting your colleague,
friend, family member, or neighbour, here’s how to start a supportive message with Empathy and support.
1 I’ve been thinking about you lately because…
Starting with a letter or card with this sentiment will immediately allow the person you are writing to know they are in mind. There is something special about knowing that they occupy someone else’s thoughts, mostly remotely. Let them know why you’ve been thinking about them lately – have you cooked a recipe they once shared with you? Did you read an article about their favourite movie director? Sharing these
intimate moments instantly creates common ground in your writing.
2 How do you feel?
Another way to show your support from the first moment of written notes is to ask the other person how they feel. This is the basis of everyday conversation when we see friends or colleagues in person, translating well into a letter. It creates an opportunity for recipients to think about their feelings while hearing your-and it encourages an answer! Asking questions is a surefire way to keep your correspondence going and
generates support right away.
3 I respect you so much in my life because…
If the person you’re writing has recently had an impact on your life, however small or large, tell them. What do you value about your colleague?
How do they make your life easier? By starting your note of support with gratitude, the recipient will feel valued and loved. Also, the positive
effects of practising gratitude will compound as an interest, minimizing toxic emotions and helping you focus on what is right.
4 I’m always there for you.
One other way to express Empathy in writing is to tell the recipient that you are always available for support. Studies have illustrated the importance of the support that people think they have access to; this type of “perceived availability of support” is associated with many positive results in mental and physical health. You don’t have to solve your friend’s problem or give your colleague a ride to work, but you’re a firming support system for them, and it offers them a source of allyship that they can use if needed. With this simple phrase, they will know
that your support is readily available.
Your writing, at its best.
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