lesson of empathy

empathy

In the quest for materialistic things and luxurious life, people have become self-centered. Only a very few percent of people have the time to listen to others. Empathy is a personality trait that is practiced by only a few people. This blog is an effort to recultivate empathy in readers.

you can also read: key tips to live a meaningful life 

What is empathy?

Many times we come across such people whose pain makes our eyes tear full. We feel their pain as ours. We want to remove all their sorrows and pain within the blink of an eye. This is empathy.

In his book Emotional intelligence, Daniel Goleman has defined empathy as one’s ability to understand others’ feelings and emotions. It is the ability to walk in someone else shoes, to feel things the same way that others feel.

Empathy is linked to our brain cells called mirror neurons. When we see others in a miserable situation, they get activated in the same way as they’ll activate when we, ourselves will experience the same situation.

Moreover, researchers have classified empathy as affective empathy and cognitive empathy. The former is the sensation that we experience after understanding others’ feelings. The latter is defined as the ability to identify and understand others’ emotions.

Why empathy is essential?

Everyone wants to be heard and understood. It is a fundamental human need. Empathy drives good relations and connects people. It makes them feel important, heard, and valued. Scientific research shows that valuing a person in need is a precursor to feeling empathy for that person.  Maya Angelou, An American poet, memoirist, and actress, once said that she has learned that people will forget what you said or what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel.

Benefits of empathy

The Greater Good Science Centre considers empathy a principal ingredient of successful relationships as it aids in understanding others’ perspectives, needs, and intentions. Other benefits of empathy are listed below

  •       People higher in empathy are more helping.
  •       Prejudice and racism reduce by practicing empathy.
  •       It reduces bullying.
  •       It reduces societal inequality as people help others outside their societal groups.
  •       Empathy makes life worth living.

Learn empathy

Empathy is highly a mutable human trait. It can be learned as well as suppressed. Without wasting a minute, let’s learn empathy.

1.  Listen to others

Listening actively is the first step towards empathy. Don’t speak too much or give your opinions on the situation the other person is dealing with. When someone is expressing his feelings or venting out about the boss or the office work, just let him do so without interruption. It helps them to calm down, and feel heard.

2.  Share their feelings

Once they stop expressing, take a minute or two to process and understand their situation. Make them feel valued by saying sentences like

  •       “I know how hard it is to deal with such a situation…”
  •       “I’ve also suffered from such problems. I’ll always stand with you…”
  •       “This is condemnable action…”

It makes them feel that you understand their feelings. It builds trust and an emotional link between the two people. Next time, when they’ll feel bad about anything, they’ll come to you for help.

 

 3.  Vulnerability is important

Vulnerability means being open to physical or emotional harm. You cannot practice empathy without feeling the same pain inside you. In this way, you become vulnerable. Many people are not expressive. They hide their feelings. The fear of being judged by others overcomes them.

To empathize with others, you have to be open and vulnerable. Toss aside your fears. Only then you’ll be able to offer them help.

4.  Imagination will be helpful

You don’t need to have always gone through the same situation that the other person is experiencing. In such a case, you need to imagine. Imagine how it would feel to you and how hard it would be to come out.

Imagine yourself in the other person’s shoes and understand his feelings.  Try walking in those shoes. It will help you to better connect with them. Moreover, it will sound more natural.

Final thoughts

Being empathetic is our moral responsibility. It’s a human need. Try following these tips to become more empathetic. Initially, it’ll seem unnatural to you but ultimately it will become part of your personality. You’ll connect with people in a way that will make you feel good and satisfied.

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