I have found Empathy is not a word that is used a lot today in society, it seems to been somewhat lost along our personal journeys to have the “perfect” lifestyle. The definition of Empathy is as follows
Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another being is experiencing from within the other being’s frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another’s position.
I truly believe that the lack of this word, its understanding and use is a major factor for all the violence, anger and hate in the world today. It is very difficult to remain angry or hurtful, physically or otherwise towards another human being, once you understand why they are acting as they are. Of course the reason that the use of this word is not prominent in society, is that it demands that you come out of your ego and consider someones elses thoughts, feelings and emotions, not just your own. This i don’t need to tell you is a very hard thing to do for the majority of us (myself included) at least when i first started actively practicing it.
Embracing empathy has so many benefits, it brings you closer to the people already part of your life as well as opening up doors to countless others. You earn their respect and their love on a much deeper level.
It comes naturally to some people, and luckily i was one of them. That doesn’t mean i didn’t have to work at it, as with anything worthwhile it took time and practice. I spent so much of my youth meeting new people and listening and learning about all their differences. The real key here is to listen, not listen to say something in return but to give the other person the space just to talk and open up.
We as humans when we listen we tend to hear something that we relate to, then charge in eager to connect with the person speaking by telling them all about how a similar situation happened to ourselves. We have all done this as it seems to us the quickest way to connect to people. However if you truly listen and are keen to get know the person fully, listening and asking questions and being genuinely interested, creates a much stronger bond because the person feels respected and important.
Of course there is the much harder situation when someone is being abusive towards you. It is so hard to see passed what they are saying or doing, to question their actions. Why are they behaving like this? Did they have a bad day? We all have bad days… Or maybe deeper maybe they were hurt by others in the past and believes that to be heard to respected they have to show forcefully that they are strong and not to be taken advantage of. Of course when somebody is in your face and being unpleasant, the easiest thing to do and some may argue natural thing to do is react in defence. This is why practicing Empathy is so important because truly understanding where someone is coming from can not only help them, but will help you.
I believe that bringing this into our conscious minds and showing our children to do the same will once again radically change the world. It is no one’s choice but your own how you react to any situation or person. But your life will change drastically for the better once you consciously bring Empathy into your life.
I have found that for me it has been a great gift and i have forged many incredible relationships because of it. It wasn’t and still isn’t easy all the time however, it takes will power and the wanting to really make the best of any situation (Best as in for both yourself and the other party)
“Let go of your attachment to being right, and suddenly your mind is more open. You’re able to benefit from the unique viewpoints of other without being crippled by your own judgment”