Empathy Is Important For Emotional and Social Wellness
When you consider what it means to offer empathy, a whole host of actions and feelings probably come to mind. Understanding someone’s suffering or circumstances, feeling sad for another person’s plight, and providing support to those in trouble are all examples. And, to be sure, this type of reaction and relationship with others is needed more so today than ever before.
The dictionary tells us that empathy is “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.” That definition goes on to include that you can have this connection and understanding even when others have not fully explained their situation to you.
In other words, you are tuned into the plights of others, and you can react in ways that show you understand what they are going through.
But, how does having empathy support your own emotional and social wellness? How can being empathetic make you are happier, healthier, more well-rounded person?
You Can Be More Accepting of Others
When you are empathetic, you recognize that everyone is entitled to their own experiences, that we are all different, and that you cannot change others. Acceptance of others’ differences, views, feelings, and thoughts means you do not judge them for these differences but instead are empathetic to how those differences impact their lives and experiences.
Empathy allows you to see others as unique instead of wrong, to value their perspectives, and to appreciate what you might be able to learn from others, as well.
You Can Give Up Trying to Control Others’ Feelings
It is not possible to tell someone else how to feel, or to control others’ reactions. Everyone has a right to their own perspectives and emotions, and when you have empathy, you are able to see and appreciate this. This acceptance of others’ emotions is the key factor, and when you develop acceptance and empathy toward others, you have mastered a vital life skill.
Your Relationships Will Improve
When you have empathy, you learn how to treat other people with the care and compassion you wish others would use when they interact with you. Empathetic people also work to understand and respond to the needs of others, which they, in turn, will likely reciprocate with you.
Empathy helps you deal more effectively with interpersonal conflict, which means there will be less friction and strife with those you care for, and you can even learn how to better motivate those with whom you live and work.
You Can Share More Fully in Others’ Joy
Empathy does not have to be limited to understanding the challenges and turmoils of others. Empathy can also include understanding and responding to the joys and good events in others lives.
Learning to be happy for others is actually a skill you need to practice, as our brains are hard-wired to respond to others’ distress but naturally do not respond as strongly to others’ happiness. But, learning to do this not only helps you connect with others more fully, but it also can enhance your own perspective on your joys and blessings in life.
At its simplest, empathy is your awareness of others’ feelings and emotions. This element is a key to your emotional intelligence as well as your personal development. It can be your link to yourself as well as other people.
Going far beyond sympathy, it is our ability to “feel with” someone else, through imagination and personal experience, allowing us to relate to them on a deeper level.
This skill is one that should be cultivated throughout one’s life, as it is essential for personal development.