As a psychology student, I have heard the term “empathy” way too many times, but have only recently started understanding and imbibing it. Simply put, empathy is the act of putting yourself in another person’s shoes (not literally please), understanding the other person’s situation through their eyes/viewpoint.
In this day and age, everyone is busy running a race with no end point. With such a chaotic climate, we often forget to stop and view the world around us, treat other people with love, affection and of course empathy! We are all human beings and having issues and obstacles in life is one of the many tags that come along with being human.
Often, we are so focused on our own problems that we often fail to extend help to those who need it more. We are quick to assign causes to other people’s problems, thus failing to understand the context of their problem. Suppose a colleague of yours is not doing well at work, you may attribute it to the fact that she isn’t a hard worker or she is dull. But did you ever ask her how things are at home?
Do you know about the recent breakup she had? Or the fact that she is unable to sleep at night because her parents keep fighting? No, most probably not. Instead of jumping to conclusions, how about we try and understand the bigger picture, the background, the fabric on which these fragile emotions rest.
You may wonder, “why should I be empathetic to everyone, what about my problems?” Ah, the dilemma I used to face every time I extended a listening ear to a friend. Let me tell you this, my friend, you are thinking about yourself for the majority of the day, about your own difficulties and problems. Listening to another person is only going to benefit you.
One, it will help alleviate the unhealthy attention you have been giving to your problems, and two, you may not realize this but every time you help someone or just be there for them, they do not forget this easily. You leave an imprint on their heart. And the next time you have an emotional breakdown, all the people you have helped will come to support you and help you get through it. Being empathetic isn’t a one way street. You give and you get it back.
As Ernest Hemmingway stated, “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” Let us thus bring a little more warmth to our relationships, let’s chip off the ice that is slowly forming amongst us. Let’s be empathetic.