The Ins and Outs of Empathy
I’d like to make an argument in favour of a more empathetic world. I believe if we understood the value of showing others empathy, the world would be much more prosperous for all. By understanding what empathy is, what it isn’t, and how it is beneficial to you, the world will shine a little brighter. And if everyone was more empathetic, humanity would see a much healthier world.
What is Empathy?
Empathy differs from sympathy in that sympathy is a feeling of compassion for a person; whereas empathy is putting yourself in that person’s place and trying to understand their world and how it differs from yours. Empathy is the idea of, “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes” and it comes with many benefits.
What Empathy Isn’t
Empathy is not weakness. It is a neutral act of seeking to understand. When paired with self-respect and assertiveness, it becomes a powerful tool. Just because you can empathize with someone, doesn’t give them the right to keep doing wrong. It is showing them that you understand their world, and with self-respect and assertiveness it is an ability to help them make the right choice in the future.
All too often in our society we are in a rush, which often results in many of us to only think of our own needs. By putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, you show others that you care and want to see the world from their perspective. Empathy builds trusts and strengthens your relationships. When you experience someone trying to see your perspective, I am sure you gain respect and appreciation for them. You can be assured others feel the same way.
When you can look at the world from someone else’s point of view, you can also look at your actions and how they impact people. You would be surprised by how many people can’t do this! Thinking about how your actions and words impact others is a form of empathy, but it is also self-regulation. This is a skill that is difficult to master, but will create a much healthier you; physically, mentally and spiritually.
If you want people’s respect, practice empathy. You will be surprised by how people will go out of their way to help you. Be sure to seek to understand. Empathy is not angry, nor does it expect anything in return; but it gives back tenfold.
This week I encourage you to find three people or scenarios with whom you can practice. Remember you can’t expect anything of them, but you can also show that you understand their perspective and set boundaries in a kind way.