Morning Meditation: Empathy
“Why are they acting this way?”
That – the willingness to ask that question, to think through the “why” – that is empathy.
And it is crucial to the well-being of human relationships.
Empathy helps us understand the perspectives, needs, and intentions of other people. And when there is “ick” or bad blood present, the first step in finding any resolution is centered around empathy.
We frequently misunderstand the difference between sympathy and empathy.
Sympathy is something we feel for someone else or another situation but we do so from our own perspective and our own understanding.
Empathy is much more. And, it requires it to not “be about us” for just a minute. And that’s where our struggle comes in. Human nature is to be self-centered, we take care of ourselves first. While that is essential to our well-being, it is not where we stop if we are going to have lives that hold meaning, purpose, and happiness. We have to take that next step and look at things from others’ perspectives.
Empathy is when we seek to understand from the exact vantage point, the exact experience of the other person. Truly, we put ourselves in their shoes. Not only do we think about what it must be like to be them, but we also must allow ourselves to feel it, too.
Research has shown that empathy makes people better managers, employees, better family members, and better friends. But it is even bigger than the personal effect. In fact, if COVID taught us anything it is that we are all in this together. Research goes on to say that connection and compassion are, in fact, crucial to a sustainable and humane future.
The next time you are in an argument with someone or you find yourself offended by what someone has said or done, try it. Try empathy.
“Why must they be acting this way? What are they thinking and feeling that is causing this?”
Then, you will be able to see.
Seeing is the first step to healing. Even if they never agree to do the same.
Carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are important when they aren’t, they’re fooling themselves.
Grace and Peace,