Empathy and Compassion

How much compassion do you have for yourself?

Do you show empathy for yourself?

As designers, we talk a lot about empathy.

A designer’s ability to empathize

In order to produce meaningful and successful outcomes, we need to know as much as we can about the user/customer/client.

What would your user/customer think, feel, do? We spend a lot of time understanding who they are and how they will behave.

As designers, our creative practice includes our ability to empathize with others.

What are the user’s needs? What do they want?

Our work extends beyond this to include:

“What does our team need to produce a successful outcome?”
“What does our boss or manager need?”

Our work feels personal to us despite its focus on satisfying the needs of others.

Your challenge as a designer

As a designer you often hear feedback and opinions of your work from others. And often, it’s from people who are not designers or who may not share your perspective.

Many times your work feels “judged” by clients, and even your own boss or manager who don’t seem to understand your perspective or your work.

How often have you felt criticized, undervalued, and under appreciated?

Many times you take criticism of your work personally. You internalize it to mean something about you and your value as a designer. You can’t separate yourself from your creative work.

You think “criticism of my work feels like a criticism of me.”

This is completely understandable, right?

Of course, this is the way your brain works. Our brain connects the two â€” “my work equals me,” in ways that feel amazing when your work is praised, but not so good when your work is criticized.

You may struggle with this repeatedly to a point where you lose some of the joy of being a creative.

Building awareness

Step back for a moment and become more aware of what’s going on for you.

Feel compassion for yourself. It may hurt to feel your work is not quite right for whatever reason.

But it’s okay. Nothing is wrong here.

Of course that’s where your mind goes. You can recognize it, you can empathize with yourself as you do for your user/customer.

But what situation is your mind creating for you? A pretty crappy one, right?

With compassion comes awareness. When you empathize with yourself you start to understand why you’re feeling this way.

Dig in. Experience your feelings without judging yourself. (And without judging other people.)

By showing compassion and empathy for yourself and allowing yourself to feel sensitive, without making it mean anything about you, you can make space for new thoughts about it.

Subtle shifts that allow you to not only feel compassion and empathy for yourself but also for your client, colleague, boss, and manager. You can see other ways of thinking when you make this space.

Add these thoughts to your creative practice:

I will have compassion for myself as a creative. I will practice empathy for myself and will understand how I think and feel better than anyone else.”

I understand how I think and I give myself permission to feel and practice new ways of thinking and being.”

I will practice having empathy for the people who work with me and be cognizant of my role in making their words mean something about me personally.”

Do you want help and guidance to know what you’re thinking and feeling, and why? Do you want to understand yourself better?

Author: Jamie Cavanaugh

Jamie Cavanaugh is a Certified Life Coach, Educator, Interaction Designer, and Writer.

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