True Empathy is a two way street 

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others.” – Pema Chodron in The Places That Scare You

“One of the most important benefits of reaching out to others is learning that the experiences that make us feel the most alone are actually universal experiences.” –Brene Brown in I Thought it Was Just Me

"Empathy is connecting with the emotion that someone is experiencing, not the event of the circumstance." --Brene Brown in Daring Greatly

"You can't selectively numb emotions. Numb the light and you numb the dark." --Brene Brown in Daring Greatly

"Compassion isn't about solutions. It's about giving all the love that you've got." -Cheryl Strayed in Tiny Beautiful Things

“Show me a woman who can hold space for a man in real fear and vulnerability, and I’ll show you a woman who’s learned to embrace her own vulnerability and who doesn’t derive her power or status from that man. Show me a man who can sit with a woman in real fear and vulnerability and just hear her struggle without trying to fix it or give advice, and I’ll show you a man who’s comfortable with his own vulnerability and doesn’t derive his power from being Oz, the all-knowing and powerful.” -Brene Brown in Rising Strong


  • I Thought It Was Just Me by Brene Brown

  • The Gifts of Our Imperfections by Brene Brown

  • Daring Greatly by Brene Brown

  • has a wealth of resources on this theme and others. Listen to Brene Brown speak on "The Courage To Be Vulnerable" in an interview with Krista Tippett.

  • Post Secret, a project started by Frank Warren in November 2004, is an "ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a post card." Visit to see the latest submissions, and view his Ted Talk video below. It is comforting to discover that so many other people in the world in fact have the same (or similar) secrets that you do. "Secrets can take many forms -- they can be shocking, or silly, or soulful." Frank Warren, the founder of, shares some of the half-million secrets that strangers have mailed him on postcards. Brene Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk at TEDxHouston, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior. Brené Brown, whose earlier talk on vulnerability became a viral hit, explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. Her own humor, humanity and vulnerability shine through every word.

What is the best way to ease someone's pain and suffering? In this beautifully animated RSA Short, Dr Brené Brown reminds us that we can only create a genuine empathic connection if we are brave enough to really get in touch with our own fragilities.