What is Empathy you might ask?
Empathy is when you put yourself in someone else’s shoes. You try to identify with their feelings, to better understand them.
It’s important to teach empathy because it helps us relate to other humans. If you understand someone else’s perspective, you can grow stronger relationships with them.
But how to practice empathy when you haven’t experienced a similar situation?
It’s hard to find something in your life that relates to what the other person is experiencing. The only way to become successful in understanding others is to put yourself in their state of mind. You might not be able to completely relate to their issues. But you can show support and maybe change the way they are feeling.
Showing support does not mean you should feel sympathy and move on. Sympathy just shows pity for the other person. This doesn’t help them overcome whatever it is they are going through.
Support should come from deeper down, creating a more positive state of mind for the other person. So they can cope better with the issues they are experiencing.
Below is an awesome video that explains the differences between “Empathy and Sympathy”…
So have you ever tried to show someone support and found they didn’t care about your advice? That is because you listened and talked, but you didn’t feel their pain. You did not go deep into the feelings that person was experiencing.
It’s important to try and go deeper when talking or interacting with someone. The other day I read in a public space a quote that made me think how important it is for us to have more empathy for others:
“Don’t judge others, because you don’t know their story…”
This is so true, but unfortunately, the majority of adults do this! It is interesting how unlike adults, children feel empathy for others. But as we grow, we become more selfish and forget to relate to each other.
It is important to integrate empathy in children’s education, so it does not get lost along the way. A good way to do this is by introducing books that talk about empathy to your kids. Here are a few children’s books that talk about this topic:
The Hip Heroes Find Their Powers created by Ona Praderas.
Chocolate Milk Por Favor written by Maria Dismondy, illustration by Donna Farrell.
Hey, Little Ant written by Phillip and Hannah Hoose.
It would be amazing to be able to maintain empathy throughout our entire life. The only way to do this is to listen to others and care.
If we as individuals grow up with empathy as an important value in life we wouldn’t feel isolated. Creating better environments with a sense of respect and understanding for each other.
Communities that support each other with empathy grow stronger and can create change. If you know what your neighbour is going through, you can lend a hand.
If others know what you are going through, they will help. Empathy creates a positive circle of strength in our relationships. It can change families, communities, cities, countries and the world.