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  • Writer's pictureCait Donovan

Dr. Kristen Donnelly: The Truth Behind Empathy As A Tool For Healing From Burnout

Updated: Sep 28, 2022

Dr. Kristen Donnelly, one of The Good Doctors of Abbey Research, is an international empathy educator. She has two decades of experience and an educational background in social work. Dr. Donnelly uses her PhD in social sciences to help people all over the world learn about empathy through her Ted Talks and hybrid, in-person, and virtual coaching. She shares her tips for how to use empathy to counter burnout after it helped her get through her own burnout in 2020. Tune into this episode to learn more.

“What we have come to define empathy as is intentional understanding of yourself and others,” explains Dr. Kristen Donnelly. Dr. Donnelly reports experiencing several burnouts throughout her life, but says that her worst was in 2020 when the lockdowns started happening. Empathy played a large role in getting her through burnout, because it allowed her to change her perspective. By de-centering herself from the experience, Dr. Donnelly realized that everyone was human and was doing their best. She shares that empathy requires intentionality and curiosity. She was able to understand that while she could not control what was happening in the world, she could control her own reactions and use her privilege to help make things better for others.

Tune into today’s episode of FRIED. The Burnout Podcast for a conversation with Dr. Kristen Donnelly about what empathy actually means and how to work at it until it becomes a natural reflex. Learn how to shift your perspective and appreciate the things that are within your control and how empathy for yourself and others can help you to heal from burnout.


“All of us want to be heard and understood. So how can I heal from this exhaustion of not being understood? I can seek to understand others.” (11:00-11:11 | Kristen)

• “What can I control? What can I handle because there's people on this planet right now, who can control almost nothing in their lives? So in honoring them right now, I have control and power. How can I leverage my control and power over my own life in respect to the fact that they have none? So part of de-centering yourself is understanding your place in global humanity, which I think then lets you really understand that on most days, you're doing okay.” (14:04-14:32 | Kristen)

• “For me, the best way to feel heard and understood was to seek to hear and understand others." (12:10-12:19 | Kristen)

• “What I know deeply is that If we decenter ourselves from our life experience, perspective becomes easier to obtain.” (12:48-13:03 | Kristen)

• “If you can choose to see comparison as a fact rather than an emotion, things get a little bit easier to navigate.” (19:17-19:25 | Kristen)

“It is important for me to understand that I do not have it as bad as other people in some ways. I also have to understand that does not invalidate what I am going through. Multiple things can be true at once.” (25:32-25:50 | Kristen)

“What we have come to define empathy as is intentional understanding of yourself and others. It's making less assumptions and asking more questions.” (36:01-36:16 | Kristen)




If you know that it’s time to actually DO something about the burnout cycle you’ve been in for too long - book your free consult today:


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