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Finding Empathy

In an enchanting kingdom hidden from the purview of the human world lived a beautiful, kind Princess Ellara. The kingdom was filled with magic, radiance, and hope, except for a patch of darkness created by the evil witch’s powers.

On one fateful day, the Evil Witch kidnapped princess Ellara and imprisoned her in the dark and shadowy tower. Ellara, however, manages to escape the tower, but instead of going back to her castle, she goes deep into the forest. While captured, she recalls her father’s story about a magical stone - a stone so powerful that it can defeat any witch or a sorcerer - the stone of Empathy.

She journeyed deeper into the forest in search of a cave behind the waterfalls that her father had described, which harbored and protected the stone. Finally arriving at her destination after a whole day of walking, Ellara entered the cave and found the stone glowing in a beautiful mystical light. She took the stone, but nothing seemed to happen. She was confused; she couldn’t recall any instructions from her father on how to use the stone.

Just then, a loud noise erupted in the cave that announced the three creatures that appeared before her: Squirrel, Giant, and River. They introduced themselves as the guardians of the Stone of Empathy. The Princess bowed to them in respect and recounted her story with the evil witch and her plans to defeat her once and for all for the peace of the kingdom. The guardians smiled at the princess and told her that the stone of empathy can be used only if she is able to pass the three tests, each given by the guardians.

Determined to use the stone, Ellara stepped forward, ready to face her first test. The Squirrel appeared before her and told her in a fast-paced tone, “You have to solve a riddle for your first test, and once said, I won’t repeat the riddle.”

Hearing this, the princess knew that she had to listen attentively, with her whole body, because the squirrel spoke very fast. Ready for the riddle, she nodded for the squirrel to proceed with his question.

The squirrel asked his riddle. “I’m something people love or hate. I change people's appearances and thoughts. If I am not controlled, I can cause a person to make mistakes that they will regret. What am I?”

The princess thought for a while, and then she screamed the answer out loud, “Emotions” she said.

The Squirrel, pleased with the princess’s response, told her to go to the Giant for her next test, as she passed her first.

Getting more confident in herself, the princess walked towards the Giant. The giant she noticed, in contrast to his demeanor, had kind eyes and a soothing vibe. The giant then welcomed her with a smile and proceeded to inform her about the second test: “You will be given a situation and three choices to deal with the situation; you can pick any. I am willing to repeat what I said, as many times as you need. Would you like to hear the question?” He said it in a calm and polite voice.

The princess responded, “Yes, Sir Giant.” The giant asked her, “You meet a mischievous gnome who has turned everything colourful into shades of grey. Your options are:

  1. Find a color restoration spell.

  2. Collect colourful flowers to brighten the forest.

  3. Ask the wise old owl for advice.”

She asked the giant to repeat his questions at least 10 times before she figured out the answer, the answer she knew wasn’t in the options that the giant had given her. Mustering all her courage, she answered, “None of the choices were what I would do; Instead, I would tell the gnome funny jokes and stories, making him laugh uncontrollably. His laughter spreads throughout the forest, bringing back all the colours.”

The Giant was pleasantly surprised by the answer and pointed her towards the River, the final test. Thanking the Giant, Ellara made her way towards the River. The elegant and powerful River welcomed Ellara and congratulated her on successfully passing her two tests. The River, in her bold and assured tone, addressed Ellara, “For your final test, you have to let yourself be free in me and feel what I feel, see what I see, and experience what I experience. Beware, Princess; not many can open their hearts to feel what another does, as they themselves are so occupied with their own feelings and emotions. When you are ready, take a leap.”

Ellara, understanding little of what the River meant, but resolved to keep her heart open, dove into the river for her final test. Inside the river, Ellara struggled to breathe, but then she remembered what the River had told her, to let herself be free, and so she did. Immersing herself in the flowing waters, she experienced a profound connection with all the living beings in her kingdom. She understood now what the river had meant by “feel what I feel, see what I see, experience what I experience.”

After what seemed like hours, Ellara surfaced out of the River, and found that the Stone of Empathy was glowing in her hands. She had activated the stone and she had passed all the three tests. A new sense of wisdom dawned on Ellara; she wasn’t as focused on destroying the witch, but more intrigued and curious about knowing the Witch’s story. This new thought filled her heart with warmth and compassion.

Thanking the guardians, Ellara left the cave and headed towards the shadowy tower of the witch. Reaching the tower, Ellara announced loudly, “Hello, Evil Witch, it’s me, Princess Ellara.” The Evil Witch’s laughter resonated in the tower; in a flash, she was behind the princess. She whispered in the princess’s ear maliciously “Come to finally die, little girl.”

“I wanted to know what your name is; It wasn’t always Evil Witch.” said Ellara in a polite voice.

The Evil Witch froze; that wasn’t the response she was expecting. Taken aback for a moment, the evil witch hesitated, but then she cast a spell that pinned the Princess to the wall behind her. The Evil Witch screamed, “You can’t fool me, Princess; beg for your life now; you are about to die.”

The Princess, harnessing the power of the Stone of Empathy, radiated kindness, and compassion around her, filling the tower with warmth. She asked again in a polite voice “I am curious to know your story, Evil Witch, I want to understand what you went through and if anyone in our kingdom did you any harm.”

The Evil Witch’s eyes widened in shock, before she could cast another spell, the kindness radiating from the Princess reached her and ushered her to open up. “Luna.” She said it in a small voice. “My name is Luna, I come from a small village, near the edge of the kingdom. My grandmother taught me magic and spells when I was a child. One day, I received a letter from the royal academy saying that my talents in magic had impressed them and they would love to have me as their apprentice. My grandmother forced me to go, although I didn’t want to leave her. The high priestess sent me a carriage to pick me up from the village. I arrived at the academy full of hope. Everyone in the academy bullied me for my accent and country-side attitude; they made fun of my silvery white hair and called me names. I realized the only way I could survive and be safe was by becoming more powerful. I started practicing the forbidden spells to gain more power to protect myself. Soon people started fearing my magic and pushing me aside.” As she recounted her story, Luna was on her knees, crying. Nobody had asked her about her story, and nobody wanted to talk to her before this. All of Luna’s emotions and feelings were felt by the princess.

Ellara was free from the spell that Luna had cast, she walked towards her, leaned closer to Luna, and hugged her. Luna looked into the Princess’s eyes and found kindness and understanding staring back at her. Ellara noticed that Luna’s eyes started to clear, turning silvery grey from black. Even her hair was turning back to silver. The Evil Witch no longer existed; it was just Luna now.

Ellara offered Luna her hand, gesturing for her to stand up. Hesitant Luna took her hand and smiled timidly. Ellara surprised Luna when she said, “Luna, would you like to be my friend? I know you have been through a really hard time and that you experienced a harsh side of the world, but I would like to show you the kind and good side of the kingdom.”

Luna, lost for words, just hugged Ellara. Thanking her for bringing her out of the darkness and listening to her side of the story when no one else did.

Like Ellara, we possess the ability to tap into, ‘The stone of Empathy’, by activating the stone within us, by actively listening, seeing things from a kinder perspective, and truly understanding how others might feel and what they think.

Empathy is like a skill, and the more we practice it, the better we become at it. When we do, our world becomes a more beautiful and compassionate place. As therapists, we use this power of empathy to create a safe and welcoming space for our clients. We don't judge them; instead, we listen to their thoughts, feelings, and emotions with care and respect. By doing this, we help them feel heard and understood, which can be incredibly healing and comforting.

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