We could all use a little more compassion in our lives.
Sometimes the world can seem like a very dog eat dog place and can feel as though everyone is scrambling to get ahead, often at the expense of putting others down to bring themselves up.
Is this really how we want to live as a society? It’s time to take a step back and reacquaint ourselves with Empathy.
Empathy is a trait that is essential for a happy society and a fulfilled individual and is best described as the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes to imagine how a particular situation must make them feel.
This ability to understand how another person might be feeling is incredibly powerful, as it can serve as a guide to how to respond to the people around us in a more effective way.
For example, you would be much more tolerant of someone’s dismissive attitude at work if you dug a little deeper and realised that they have just ended a long-term relationship, which might be making them lash out in ways they normally wouldn’t.
From this place of understanding, we are now able to move forward with our interactions with others with love and tolerance, making the world a nicer place for all of us.
Here are three areas in our lives where we can employ the use of empathy to show more understanding and improve our interactions with ourselves and the people around us.
1: Empathy towards others.
Showing more empathy to those around us benefits everyone.
I’m sure there have been times in your life where you’ve snapped at someone because you simply had too much on your plate.
We’ve all been guilty of this, but instead of feeling bad about the times we may have hurt others, we can look back on these moments and learn from them.
If you approach someone with love and understanding, you are showing them that you see the person underneath, which can be incredibly comforting and reassuring for that person.
When we understand how someone is feeling, we can respond to the situation more appropriately and give the person what they need in that moment, even if it’s just a listening ear.
Showing empathy towards others builds trust as well as more positive social change as people start thinking more deeply about each other, instead of taking everything at face value.
We all need time to work though our problems, and if someone makes that a little easier by deeply connecting with us, then that can only be a good thing.
2: Empathy at work.
Showing empathy in the workplace is essential for a mentally healthy working environment.
Workplaces can be a large gathering of all kinds of different people under the one roof. Whether you work in an office, a factory, a school or a hotel, every workplace has its own dynamic and its own collection of unique characters.
For many of us, we see our colleagues more than our own families, so the importance of being more empathetic work cannot be understated.
Sometimes we allow strict deadlines, office politics and general work pressures get in the way of the human side of the workplace, with rigid working structures often the root cause of the issue.
Empathetic behaviours we can show in the workplace include giving someone your full attention when you talk to them and taking a genuine interest in your colleagues. In addition, acknowledging their thoughts and feelings are a great way to start building up empathy skills at work.
By building these deeper connections with your colleagues, you will not only benefit emotionally, but you may also begin to notice that you start working better together as a team.
3: Empathy towards yourself.
The more you practice interacting more empathically with others, the more you will be able to have more empathy towards yourself.
We are our own worst critics. How many times have you let the voice in your head tell you that you’re not good enough or that you shouldn’t try something new because you might fail?
We are only human and can only handle so much at once. Life is unpredictable and can throw many curve balls in our way, creating feelings of sadness, frustration and a general sense of being overwhelmed.
By learning to live more empathically you will be better equipped to cut yourself some slack when things are getting a bit much.
You will also be better able to point out to yourself when you are expressing your emotions in an unhealthy and unhelpful way, such as yelling at others or engaging in unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as reckless behaviour, excessive drinking or under eating.
We can show more empathy to ourselves by forgiving our past transgressions, to move forward with a clean slate of forgiveness, and embracing positive self-talk.
Paying attention to your needs and making sure they are getting met is another way you can emphatically care for yourself and give yourself the best chance to reach your full potential.
We all go through rough patches, and empathy really is the shining light that can get us through many a dark time, whether that’s at work, at home or deep within ourselves.
We are all capable of showing love and respect to each other, so let us start embracing empathy and being the light.