We all live in our own version of reality. Reality that is limited by our senses, our temperament and our own experiences. It is the only reality we will ever truly know, but it is crucial to our personal development, our relationships, and to society itself, that we make the effort to try and experience other people's realities as well. This is done through empathy.
Simply stated, empathy is an active attempt to understand another person's perspective, their emotions, and in essence, their reality. We are social animals and our ability to communicate and Understand each other states is key to maintaining our relationships. Empathy is simply putting yourself into someone else’s shoes and trying to understand their feelings and their stories.
Don't be mistaken though, not only Humans, but animals also display empathy toward humans and other animals in a multitude of ways, including comforting, grieving, and even rescuing each other from harm at their own expense.There are many documented stories of elephants finding and rescuing the people that were lost.
All humans knowingly or unknowingly practice empathy. Here are 3 steps that help you empathize better:
1. Be observant of others.
2. Use active listening. Slow down and don’t rush to reply. You don’t need to share someone’s opinion in order to understand and acknowledge it.
3. Keep an open mind. Through the practice of having an open mind, we can challenge prejudices, find commonality and not label people as another.
With an increasingly polarized and divided world, we need empathy more than ever before. Too often we are talking at each other unable to listen and jumping to entirely wrong conclusions. Communication is fast becoming a stressful endeavor which instead of connecting us, is increasing separation. We often seem to let go of this most basic human characteristic. Trust me, being able to empathize with people, not only makes you more connected to the world, but it also helps when you want to solve a problem or do something for society.
- By Pushti Shah
Empathy is... Seeing with theeyesof another; listening with theearsof another; feeling with the heartof another.