Make Empathy a Habit

Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.  It is temporarily stepping into their situation and attempting to think, feel and experience what another is feeling.  It is related to but not the same as sympathy which is feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.

Empathy can be learned.  It starts with becoming mindful but is built on a curiosity to consider an alternate viewpoint.  You listen and become available without needing to solve a problem.  You suspend judgement.  Comfort is offered.  It can be a spiritual experience. Empathy is an essential life skill and habit.

As a parent, you may wonder “what is the crying baby feeling?” or “why is my teen moody?”  It’s important as a volunteer and as a manager.  It is an important skill in any role and a wonderful way to build closer relationships.  Empathy is easier if you have a similar experience.  I know what it’s like to lose a parent but not a child.  I know what it’s like to be a dad but not a mom.  That doesn’t mean I can’t try to better understand.

Empathy is one of those life skills that can change the world.  Imagine stepping into the shoes of a migrant worker, or someone in a wheelchair, or someone from the other political party.  Our judging mind tends to exclude others who are not like us.  What if we shifted our mindset to one of understanding?

This blog was inspired by my recent reading of the book Empathy: Why It Matters, and How to Get It by Roman Krznaric.

3 thoughts on “Make Empathy a Habit

  1. I’m going to have to check out that book! I love the idea of making empathy a habit. (I’m an empath, and I’ve gotten into the habit of shutting it off to not get overwhelmed by negativity. But I know that by doing so, I miss out on so much good as well.)

  2. Pingback: Be Available Attentively | 250 Words

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s