‘If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.’
– Barack Obama
‘The highest form of knowledge is empathy.’
– Bill Bullard
‘Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.’
– Mohsin Hamid
Why is empathy important, and what function does it serve in everyday life?
Being empathetic is often associated with being soft and sensitive, rather than a trait of an intuitive powerhouse. But being able to listen and truly understand the people around you is a sensational skill to have.
Regardless of what scenario you are in, whether it be work, at home, in a relationship or part of a friend group, empathy is an incredibly important part of being a good leader, a good partner and a good friend.
So why is empathy important, and what function does it serve in everyday life?
Empathy is crucial in connecting with people at a higher level. Being aware of the people around you and how they think and feel can help you understand what they need, what motivates them and what they care about.
If you don’t know what makes someone tick, it’s almost impossible to be able to connect with them in a meaningful way. But more than that, being able to truly appreciate and empathise with someone’s feelings can really help and encourage people to feel that they can open up to you and talk to you about things.
Being able to understand and empathise with people can really help you look beyond yourself and see the bigger picture. Suddenly it’s not about ‘me’ but about ‘we’. Yes, some people are naturally more empathetic than others, but that’s not to say you can’t stop, look and listen to the people around you.
If you’re empathetic, not only will you have more respect and appreciation for the people around you, but you will notice you will get the same in return. People are more likely to hold you in a higher regard and be loyal to you if they know you would do the same thing for them.
Not everyone is religious, but everyone believes in something. And usually it follows that being a good person will attract a sense of achievement and spiritual peace. Whether you believe in Karma or God or Reincarnation, the theme is generally: ‘what goes around, comes around’.
Being at peace with yourself and your actions is more powerful than you think, and can bring an abundance of positive energy into your life.
When you open your eyes to the people around you, you start to appreciate a lot more in life. Things aren’t always as bad as you think they are, and a lot of people have it worse. Not only does being empathetic and having genuine connections help you in your relationships, it can help your mood, too.
When you practice empathy, you’re practicing seeing the world from someone else’s perspective, or ‘stepping into someone else’s shoes’, so to speak. It’s hard not to appreciate things when someone may have it harder than you. And not only that, you begin to appreciate the small things in life too; like a random act of kindness, a ‘good-morning’ text, someone thinking to grab you a coffee, or even just a smile from a stranger.
Empathy is a beautiful, powerful action to practice, and is something incredibly important to maintaining relationships throughout your personal, professional and spiritual journey.
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‘The greatest lesson you might ever learn in this life is this: It is not about you.’
– Shannon L. Alder
There are so many things that I want to say, and yet, most of the time, nothing comes from my mouth but a wry smile.
How am I meant to say the things I desperately want to, without revealing how incredibly broken I am?
I watch you all day, think about you, talk to you. And yet the things that I so desperately want to scream, are stuck inside my lungs, weighing me down like cement, instead of air.
I want you to look into my eyes and understand, so I don’t have to say the things I feel. I want you to hold my hand, until I don’t have a reason to let go. I want you to hold me together, because I feel like I’m falling apart.
I know you can see the flicker of what’s haunting me, behind my eyes. I know you can sense the things I don’t say.
Look closer. Believe me when I say I want to tell you. But understand me when I say I can’t.
Because my lungs are filled with cement.
And the more I gasp for air, the harder the cement sets. The heavier I feel. The harder it is to let the words escape.