What is Empathy?

Empathy is the ability to understand what other people are feeling, see things from their perspective and showing compassion towards them. Essentially, it is putting yourself in someone else’s position and feeling what and how they feel.

However, not everyone can empathize with people suffering. Hence, Empathy is not a universal response to the suffering of others.

The term Empathy was first introduced in 1909 by psychologist Edward B. Titchener translating the German term einfühlung (meaning “feeling into”).

Research has found that there are gender differences in the experience and expression of Empathy. However, studies suggest that women tend to feel more cognitive Empathy than men.

People may feel Pity, Sympathy, or other emotions.

Sympathy and Compassion are terms associated with Empathy but are different in definition.

Compassion is an emotion people feel when others are in need, which motivates people to help them. While, Sympathy is a feeling of care and understanding for someone in need.

  

Types

EMPATHY: ''I feel what you feel''...

EMPATHY: ”I feel what you feel”…

A person may experience the following;

  1. Affective (also known as emotional empathy): Is the ability to feel another’s persons emotional /mental distress and respond appropriately. This can be subdivided into the following scales:
  • Empathic concern: sympathy and Compassion for others in response to their suffering.
  • Personal distress: self-centered feelings of discomfort and anxiety in response to another’s suffering.

    2. Somatic: This is a physical reaction in response to what someone else is experiencing.
     For example, if you see someone hurt, you too might feel physical pain. Anecdotally, identical twins sometimes report that they know when the other has been hurt, which might be an example of somatic empathy.
    3. Cognitive: the capacity to understand another’s perspective or mental state

Causes Of Lack Of Empathy

A lack of Empathy can also be a trait of personality disorders like narcissism or antisocial personality disorder. Other causes may include the following :

1. Environmental Factors. 

2. They may have grown up with parents who could not regulate their emotions and showed very little Compassion towards them. 

3. They may have also experienced difficult situations in life that caused them to lack Empathy and behave the way they do.’

4. Damage to the frontal lobe of the brain, which is responsible for the regulation of emotions, can disrupt the ability of a person to be empathic towards someone else.

Benefits of Being Empathetic

  1. Helps build social relationships with people.
  2.  Better leadership skill
  3.  Improved Communication Skills: By learning to put yourself in the perspective of others, you can find ways to explain your own perspective in a way that best resonates with them.
  4. Empathizing with others helps you learn to regulate your own emotions. This is important in that it allows you to manage your feelings, even in times of great stress, without becoming overwhelmed.
  5. Empathy promotes helping behaviors.

    Helpful Tips To Becoming More Empathetic

    Fortunately, Empathy is a skill that can be learned and developed.
    See the following tips:

  1. Try not not make assumptions about others based on your life experience.
  2. Allow yourself to be vulnerable.
  3. Be curious about the needs and interest of others.
  4. Actively listen to people around you.
  5. Take actions and offer help.

Finally, knowing that everyone has a story and that sometimes we don’t know what they are going through or what their current path is like. Hence, it is important to treat people with the kindness they deserve and giving back the love they need.

 

UNDERSTANDING EMPATHY

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