Empathy | How To Build The First Foundations Of Trust (with anyone)
Empathy is a powerful self-development tool for demonstrating that we understand someone else’s view of the world. It enables us to totally identify with another person’s feelings within their particular situations. Empathy allows us to experience someone’s circumstances on an emotional level by attaining a profound awareness and knowledge of why they feel the way they do.
Basically, we demonstrate empathy by being able to “walk in another’s shoes” and when we are able to echo back an individual’s inner feelings, they recognise that we are connected with them on an emotional level. In a way, we are employing a vital element of our ‘Emotional Intelligence’ (or EQ) – as opposed to IQ – which is essential for developing dynamic and rewarding relationships. Empathy goes beyond reason and rational judgement because it involves our senses and heart-felt instincts, not just our logical minds.
The two main factors that seem to facilitate empathy towards others (or not) are the age-old debates between nature and nurture.
Our genetic make-up contributes to our overall personality including how we treat other human beings, but our beliefs and values are often shaped as we mature by our social communities and lifestyle in general. Some people feel instant compassion and sympathy for those in pain or trauma, whilst others lack the capacity for an empathetic connection, although what makes one person cry and another laugh is extremely individualised and cannot be generalised; empathy is not a universal response to sufferance.
For example, “The Good Samaritan” is empathetic. Doing something in order to help someone in need – unconditionally – shows behavioural kindness and compassion. Indeed, the actions of heroes and heroines fall into the circle of empathetic behaviour as do the altruistic deeds conducted by people every day. However, as we all know, human beings are also very adept at being selfish, unkind and cruel; frequently without knowing it as they perceive their actions as the ‘right way to behave’.
All human beings are born with the emotional capability of empathising. We can consciously communicate empathy on a physical level: we can mirror other people’s facial expressions such as a smile; we can focus on someone’s eyes for a second longer; we can stand or sit in a more open manner; we can moderate or soften our tone and volume of voice; we can ask questions that show true interest in someone.
All of these qualities resonate with people; they literally demonstrate empathy which, as a result, will invariably lead to the formation of a social bond or union.
Empathy does not mean to sacrifice oneself. In fact, to show empathy is as much an act of self-contentment as it is in helping another find peace and hope. To wholly connect with another human being, to fully understand and be fully understood in return, are moments of unbridled unity – and yes, even a sense of love, in its purest definition.
In summation, to demonstrate empathy is to join two great forces of nature: our minds with our hearts – combined to the extent that the feelings of self-accomplishment and personal happiness which have arisen in us simply overwhelms and eradicates perceptions of loneliness, self-doubt and despair – in ourselves as well as others.
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