Empathy is such a powerful practice and way of being that no matter what the relationship, whether personal or professional or the relationship we have with ourselves, it becomes a key building block.
Simply said, it is a vehicle of connection, which we all need and want. Connection is why we are here and the purpose behind everything.
If I honestly take a moment to reflect on all the people who have inspired me, who Ive felt seen and understood by and who have supported me on my journey, they practice empathy.
They practiced their ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Think back to an experience or emotion you've had. It can be a time of struggle or a time of overwhelming joy. Empathy says:
“Me too. I hear you and Ive been there.”
These words given honestly from a place of grounded presence and compassion can literally change someones life. They are incredibly powerful and healing.
According to Dr. Brene Brown, when we practice empathy, we are actually doing these four things:
1 Perspective taking the ability to see the world through the other person’s eyes
2 Non Judgement the willingness to put down our own stories, thoughts and criticisms that may arise when someone shares their experience with us. Often we resort to judgement when we feel uncomfortable. Non Judgement requires us to be okay with the discomfort.
3 Recognize Emotion this one is all about identifying the emotion behind the experience the other person is sharing with us.
4 Communicate Emotion once we are aware of the emotion behind the experience we are hearing, we can then remember that emotion within our own experiences and communicate it back. No two individuals have the same experiences, therefore we are not required to identify with the circumstances of the experience, only the emotion behind them.
Whether at work, in our personal relationships, when we are on the go and traveling or perhaps in the meeting of a perfect stranger, we have the opportunity to be empathetic and kind.
The truth is that we can never know what a person is really experiencing, unless they share it with us. So if they do, knowing what we now know, we might just listen a little differently.