relationship

The Power of Empathy

Empathy is the capacity to recognise and, to some extent, share feelings (such as sadness or happiness) that are being experienced by another sapient or semi-sapient being. Someone may need to have a certain amount of empathy before they are able to feel compassion.

Empathy is the capacity to recognise and, to some extent, share feelings (such as sadness or happiness) that are being experienced by another sapient or semi-sapient being.

Someone may need to have a certain amount of empathy before they are able to feel compassion. The English word was coined in 1909 by E.B. Titchener as an attempt to translate the German word “Einfühlungsvermögen”, a new phenomenon explored at the end of 19th century mainly by Theodor Lipps. It was later re-translated (Germanized) into the German language into “Empathie” and still in use there.

Empathy is one of the most important aspects of creating harmonious relationships, reducing stress, and enhancing emotional awareness — yet it can be tricky at times. I consider myself to be quite empathetic, but I notice that with certain people (especially those I don’t like or agree with, and also with myself at times) and in particular situations, my natural ability and desire to empathise can be diminished or almost nonexistent.

I also notice that when I feel empathy for others and for myself, I feel a sense of peace, connection, and perspective that I like. And when there is an absence of empathy in a particular relationship or situation, or how I’m relating to myself, I often experience stress, disconnection, and negativity. Can you relate?

What Is Empathy?

Empathy is not sympathy. When we’re sympathetic, we often pity someone else but maintain our distance (physically, mentally, and emotionally) from their feelings or experience. Empathy is more a sense that we can truly understand, relate to, or imagine the depth of another person’s emotional state or situation. It implies feeling with a person rather than feeling sorry for a person. And in some cases that “person” is actually us.

Empathy is a translation of the German term Einfühlung, meaning “to feel as one with.” It implies sharing the load, or “walking a mile in someone else’s shoes,” in order to understand that person’s perspective.

What Stops Us From Empathising?

There are a number of things that get in the way of us utilizing and experiencing the power of empathy. Three of the main ones, which are all interrelated, are as follows:

Feeling Threatened

When we feel threatened by another person or a particular situation, it’s often hard to empathise. This makes perfect sense from a survival standpoint (i.e., if someone is trying to hurt us, we want to protect ourselves rather than have compassion and understanding about where they’re coming from).

However, we often feel “threatened” based on our own fears, projections, and past experiences, not by what is actually happening in the moment or in a particular relationship or situation. Whether the threat is “real” or “imagined,” when we feel threatened in any way, it often shuts down our ability to experience empathy.

Being Judgemental

Judgements are a part of life, we all must make lots of judgements and decisions on a daily basis (what to wear, what to eat, where to sit, what to watch/listen to/read, what to say, and on and on). Making value judgements (the relative placement of our discernment) is essential to living a healthy life. However, being judgemental is a totally different game. When we’re judgemental, we decide that we’re “right” and someone else is “wrong.” Doing this hurts us and others, cuts us off from those around us, and doesn’t allow us to see alternative options and possibilities.

We live in a culture that is obsessed with and passionate about being judgemental. And many of us, myself included, are highly trained in this destructive and damaging “art.” When we’re being judgemental about another person, group of people, or situation, we significantly diminish our capacity to be empathic.

Experiencing Fear

The root of all this is our fear. Feeling threatened is all about fear. Being judgemental is all about fear. And, not feeling, experiencing, or expressing empathy is also all about fear. There’s nothing inherently wrong with fear; it’s a natural human emotion that has many positive aspects to it if we’re willing to admit it, own it, express it, and move through it. Fear saves our lives and keeps us out of trouble all the time.

However, the issue with fear is our denial of it, our secret obsession with it, and our lack of responsibility about it. We deem things, people, or situations to be “scary,” when in truth there is nothing in life that is inherently “scary.” There are lots of things, people, and situations that cause fear in us; however, we make it about “them” instead of owning that the fear comes from within us. When we allow ourselves to be motivated by fear, which often leads to us defending ourselves against “threats,” being judgemental, and more, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to access the power of empathy.

Where in your life and relationships can you see that feeling threatened, being judgemental, and experiencing fear stop you from being empathic? The more willing you are to look at this, acknowledge it, own it, and take responsibility for it (with compassion for yourself), the more able you’ll be to expand your capacity for empathy.

How to Become More Empathic

There are many things we can do and practice to increase our ability to feel, experience, and express empathy for others, situations, and ourselves. Becoming more empathetic is one of the best ways we can enhance our relationships, reduce our stress level, and feel good about ourselves and our lives in an authentic way.

Here are a few things you can do and think about to become more empathic:

Be Real About How You Feel:

When we’re willing to get real about how we truly feel and have the courage to be vulnerable about it with ourselves and others, we can so often liberate ourselves from the negativity, projections, and judgements that mask what’s really going on. When we’re in a conflict with another person or dealing with someone or something that’s challenging for us, being able to admit, own, and express our fear, insecurity, sadness, anger, jealousy, or whatever other “negative” emotions we are experiencing is one of the best ways for us to move past our defensiveness and authentically address the deeper issues of the situation.

Doing this allows us to access empathy for ourselves, the other person or people involved, and even the circumstances of the conflict or challenge itself.

Imagine What It’s Like For Them:

While it can sometimes be difficult for us to “understand” another person’s perspective or situation (because we may not agree with them, haven’t been through what they’ve been through, or don’t really want to see it through their eyes), being able to imagine what it must be like for them is an essential aspect of empathy.

This is not about condoning inappropriate behaviour or justifying other people’s actions; however, I do believe deep in my heart that no one does or says things that are hurtful to us if they aren’t already feeling a real sense of pain themselves and/or haven’t been hurt in many ways in their own life. Whatever the situation, the more willing we are to imagine what it’s like for them, the more compassion, understanding, and empathy we’ll be able to experience.

Forgive Yourself and Others:

Forgiveness is one of the most important things we can do in life to heal ourselves, let go of negativity, and live a life of peace and fulfilment. Forgiveness has to first start with us. I believe that all judgement is self-judgement. When we forgive ourselves, we create the conditions and perspective to forgive others.

Forgiveness is one of the many important aspects of life that is often easier said than done. It is something we need to learn about and practice all the time. Sadly, we aren’t often taught how to forgive, encouraged to do it in genuine way, and didn’t, in most cases, grow up with very good models or examples of how to forgive.

One of the best books you can read on this subject is called Forgive For Good, written by my friend and mentor Dr. Fred Luskin, one of the world’s leading experts and teachers about the power of forgiveness. This book gives you practical and tangible techniques you can use to forgive anyone and anything. The more willing we are to forgive ourselves and others (and continue to practice this in an on-going way), the more able we’ll be to empathise authentically.


Mike Robbins is a sought-after motivational keynote speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of Focus on the Good Stuff (Wiley) and Be Yourself, Everyone Else Is Already Taken (Wiley). More info: www.Mike-Robbins.com

Forgiving Yourself – The Benefits

Forgiving Yourself - The Benefits. The one person who can cause you the most harm, be the most oblivious to your best interests, and the hardest for you to forgive: You...

Forgiving Yourself – The Benefits

The one person who can cause you the most harm, be the most oblivious to your best interests, and the hardest for you to forgive: You!

By virtue of being human, you carry within you the potential to do self-destructive and foolish things. You can hurt your loved ones and yourself. You may be hurting right now because of something that you did in the past. Forgiving yourself is in many ways more difficult than forgiving others. Because you know your heart, you cannot get away with partial or false forgiveness.

The Dangers of Self-loathing

When you are unwilling to forgive yourself, you turn the force of your bitterness and anger inward. 2,000 years ago, a wise man wrote that “a house divided against itself cannot stand”. So too, you cannot function properly if you resent yourself. Your relationships, your work, your physical health and your emotional well being are all likely to suffer significantly if you are in a state of unresolved conflict with yourself.

You may be able to get by for a time, you may be able to fool those around you, but in the end you cannot be untrue to yourself. Being bitter against your own soul for the mistakes of your past will lead to only one thing: self-loathing.

If you are harbouring an unforgiving pain within, it is nearly impossible to forgive others. Pain piles upon pain, and your heart becomes hardened. In a tragically short amount of time, your self-loathing will turn into an angry, seething loathing of everything and everyone around you. When you reach that stage, you become very hard to love. The loathing that you broadcast will be returned to you — until you forgive yourself and begin restoring a healthy sense of self-worth.

The Joys of Self-forgiveness

Self-forgiveness brings about a corrected self-image. Free from blame, we can see our true potential and feel good about ourselves again. When you stop flagellating yourself for the sins of your past, your future looks much brighter. Forgiving yourself is not easy.

There can be no tearful confession, no heart to heart talk because all is already known and there is but one heart — a heart broken by a war that can have no winner.

Forgiving yourself requires a conscious effort to let go of the past and take an active step toward a happier and healthier future.There can be no falsity, no deceit.

If you are going to forgive yourself, you’ve got to go all the way. Let the mistakes of your past stay in the past. Push them away as if they never happened.


Written by Deva Ezhil Tamil Nadu, India

Friendship – An offspring of Spiritual affinity.

Friendship - An offspring of Spiritual affinity. I was doing some thinking today about Friendship and what all it means and implies, it’s obligations and so on.

Friendship – An offspring of Spiritual affinity.

I was doing some thinking today about Friendship and what all it means and implies, it’s obligations and so on. 

The most important thing to remember is… 

Always appreciate the friends that you have. A fight may come and go very easily, but a friendship could last forever. 

For every second spent in anger, a minute of happiness is wasted. 

Most people walk in and out of your life. But only true friends leave footprints in your heart.

When we look back on our younger years, we will remember the people who went to school with us, the people who made us laugh, the people who hung out with us when nobody else would, and the  people who made our lives much better simply by being a part of it. 

Good friends are hard to find, harder to leave, and impossible to forget”.

The language of friendship is not in words but in their meanings”.

Read more >>> Friendship – An offspring of Spiritual affinity..

To forgive takes strength to set aside what is often justifiable anger.

To forgive really is divine. It takes strength to set aside what is often justifiable anger. It’s much easier to hold a grudge. Yet when we make thejustifiable anger choice and allow ourselves to put aside that anger and to forgive those who have harmed us, we actually do ourselves a great service. Making the conscious decision to let go of pain is the beginning of healing. But doing so is challenging because it is easy to become attached to seeing oneself as a victim and to hold onto resentment, even when the person who has harmed us is genuinely sorry. Forgiving someone is both one of the most difficult and one of the most spiritually rewarding choices we can make. Read more>>>>To forgive takes strength to set aside what is often justifiable anger..

A Divine Opportunity!

What is love? There are many schools of thought and I must say, being based in perception, ‘love’ is highly misunderstood.

what is loveLove is an experience. It’s an energy utilized for the highest good. It has nothing to do with a person, place or thing; it’s a feeling, a gift of light, and when we allow it to consume us, it raises our vibration and enhance our lives. On the other hand, if we permit our observations and judgments to overshadow the love we feel for someone else, or ourselves for that matter, we’re no longer fully experiencing love.

Allowing love is challenging. Love is not. Love shows up and inspires us and often times, as soon as something happens we deem unacceptable or less than favorable, we stop dead in our tracks and dismiss the person, place or thing. However, for the courageous, love is something they cling too because they’ve felt the fire and caught a glimpse of the possibilities. Unfortunately, many people believe love is difficult and jump from person to person and circumstance to circumstance because it’s easier to start anew rather than explore the depths of their being. You see, that is what love does. It opens the heart and doors to our core. It causes us to face the shadows in order to embrace the light; yet, so many people are afraid to really look at the dark and will write it off as being the wrong person, place or thing.

I’m here to tell you, there is no such thing as right or wrong; we are simply introduced to experiences that offer beautifully complex opportunities to embrace ourselves in our entirety.

Society tells us there is someone for everyone; that each one of us has a soul mate and so on. What if this was someone’s way of justifying their own pursuit of love? What if anyone is that person, we’re just consumers of the belief that there is only one and choose to pursue that perfect person; yet, when perfection is NEVER found, we adopt the philosophy we’re destined to ‘do’ life alone and settle until we can’t take ‘it’ any longer or that person does show up. It’s no wonder so many people walk around feeling lost and confused. The perfection, as we define it, doesn’t lie in a person, place or thing, it lies in the opportunity to allow love to surround and support us; to break us down and reveal the things we’ve been avoiding and embrace them as a part of us with someone else watching and showering us with the trust, patience and compassion. The biggest problem I see is when one or both people are sold on the concept of finding the right one and feeling discouraged when breakdowns occur.

Breakdowns are opportunities to shift, grow, nurture and persevere! It’s what inspires all forms of art, and the reason I’m writing this article. I’m committed to and believe in the power of love. Is it beautiful and perfect? That depends on your definition and whether or not you’re willing to expand your thinking to embrace the beauty of the shadow and see the perfection in the imperfections.

Love is God’s gift to each of us. It’s a Divine flash light, of sorts, to explore the depths of our individual Universe’s. To reject or resist love is to reject or resist the Divine. To turn away from the light is to buy into one more context: stay away from the light … sound familiar? Oddly enough, we’re actually pursuing the light in our soul, so why on earth do we shy away from the light of another? We are light beings, and allowing the light of another to fuel our fire is God’s greatest gift to be all that we can be. Our shadows are weaknesses that are complimented by the love and strength of another, not something to run from or hide. Allowing another to see this side of us and be the strength we deserve is the greatest sign of gratitude we can give to our self, the other person and most importantly the One ~ the Divine!

Tammy Davis – About the Author:
Writer, Alchemist
Follow me on twitter http://www.twitter.com/tammydavis8 or http://www.twitter.com/tldavis508

 

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