5 Things That Happen When You Practice Empathy

Empathy is the ability to understand someone’s emotions and feelings as your own.

You should be able to put yourself in their shoes and look at their situations and feelings from their state of mind to get a complete understanding. It is one of the most important qualities that a human can possess.

Many people often get confused between sympathy and empathy. ‘Sympathy’ means to feel concerned about someone’s issues and problems but not to be able to necessarily connect with their emotions and feel what they are going through. It’s not as deep as empathy.

‘Sympathy’ simply is a good trait, nonetheless, but it’s only through empathy that you can truly help someone.

Sometimes, a person who is suffering from a problem cannot figure out a solution because their mind gets hazy with all their troubles and sorrows.

If you lend an empathetic ear to someone, you help them by easing their burden. It is also very possible that by getting a new perspective towards their situation, you can suggest them a solution that they might not have thought of.

As an average human starts spending time with people, it’s natural for him to cultivate empathy for them. A reassuring touch and an empathic ear can go a long way in healing someone.

Empathy is required to form any basic human bond. All of us want someone who is not only non-judgemental but carries a great deal of empathy inside them. It is what separates an acquaintance from a stranger; a friend from a foe.

Empathy is categorised into 3 types:

1. Cognitive Empathy

Cognitive Empathy deals with understanding someone’s problems and issues. It involves being able to get a clear perspective regarding what the person is going through, and listening to them with a non-judgemental mind.

2. Emotional Empathy

Emotional Empathy deals with not only understanding someone’s problems but also being able to feel their emotions as your own. Emotionally empathetic people are quite sensitive, and they have a better understanding of human emotions than others.

3. Compassionate Empathy

Compassionate Empathy deals with not only understanding someone’s problems and feeling their emotions but also helping the person to take the necessary steps to get better.

Empathy is a miracle given to humanity. As one goes through the monotony of life, they often forget the power they hold to change the world. Considering themselves ordinary, they keep all their abilities suppressed. So, it is important to become aware of how empathetic you can be, and start putting your trait to the best use.

Here are the five incredible things that happen when you practice empathy.

1. Popularity comes knocking at your door.

As you start practicing empathy, you become famous among your friends. Due to your compassionate listening skills, they start visiting you often to feel better. An empathetic person loves helping people out, so you may enjoy being the center of attention among your friends.

The best way to approach someone is by finding similarities and accepting differences. Moreover, an open mind should be kept while interacting with someone, as it will help you to understand someone’s life without having pre-conceived notions and ideas. A good human interaction shouldn’t be tainted with the intervention of a judgemental mind.

99% of Americans feel at least some level of empathy.

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Empathy helps to get rid of selfishness and encourages us to immerse our time in getting to know another person. It involves going beyond the human barriers and forming a strong bond with another person. Empathy plays an important role in not only helping another person feel better, but it can be a natural therapy for an empathetic person as well.

Leo Buscaglia

Author

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

Do you know that empathy plays a big role in forming better business leaders?

An empathetic and compassionate leader learns to let go of their ego and approach the employees from a place of humility. It ultimately leads the employees to give their 100% to their job and working with higher motivation and dedication.

It makes an empathetic leader more successful than the rest. A positive and work-oriented atmosphere is created in the workplace impacting the workers psychologically.

Such a positive atmosphere will increase the number of healthy workers. In fact, empathy is one of the top 8 traits required for being a good leader.

2. You will be sought to resolve conflicts.

If a fight breaks out, people expect someone wise to interfere and stop the conflict.

An empathetic person is considered wise because of his grasp over his emotions as well as a clear understanding of another human’s feelings. So, he will be expected to take up the role of an elder in such troublesome situations.

Daniel H. Pink Author

Empathy is about standing in someone else's shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.

There is an increase in the number of conflicts in countries where basic empathy is lacking among people. As ego and apathy are two determining factors of human behaviour, no one tries to stop the conflicts that erupt.

Such an attitude can be extremely cataclysmic for the country and its growth.

It’s the reason that most third-world countries suffer from conflict manufactured in their very own country.

Ecuador is the most empathetic country.

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3. You get to know more about people.

Due to your non-judgemental and empathetic attitude, people will prefer opening up to you more. ‘Trust’ is earned, and an empathetic person is certainly a trustworthy person.

By the end of a heart-to-heart session, you might be aware of a person’s past, present as well as future. You may even start understanding a person better than they know themselves.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Pastor

We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.

Some people are in their shell, and it takes work to bring them out. As you put your empathy to use, they realize that you are a kind human with whom they can open up and share their deepest hopes and despairs.

A study revealed that a person with good empathy skills has a female brain!

They are considered to be empathizers and are gentler towards other people. As we know, females bond by sharing their stories and supporting each other, whereas this kind of behavior is not seen among males (generally).

Mostly, women are the ones who are empathizers, as men are more inclined in their life to cars, machinery, and similar objects.

Women spend their childhood playing with dolls and engaging in more ‘conversational’ games like playing teacher or acting like a housewife.

No matter how grossly stereotyped it might seem, but that’s what the study has revealed. Moreover, parents are rougher with their sons, as they are expected to be tough.

On the other hand, they treat their daughters gently because they are considered fragile and sensitive. So, much of our empathy-related skills are also influenced by how we’ve been brought up.

The difference between a boy and a girl’s empathizing skills is shown in the following chart.

But it’s not impossible for a guy to feel empathy. As he engages with more people and makes deliberate efforts to not only understand others but to understand his emotions as well, he can be as empathetic as any female.

Empathy is a gender-neutral trait; it is not to be governed by your sex. However, it is labeled as something that girls can practice and understand better than boys.

4. You get the superpower of predicting someone’s thoughts and behaviors.

By spending time with people and observing them closely, you become acquainted with their emotions and feelings. It helps you to predict their thoughts and behaviors, as you become peculiarly aware of how they deal with various situations, and what exactly they need to feel better. It will help you to deal with the people in a better way, as you will be able to envision their reactions beforehand.

Richard Eyre Film Director

Change begins with understanding and understanding begins by identifying oneself with another person: in a word, empathy. The arts enable us to put ourselves in the minds, eyes, ears and hearts of other human beings.

There are various ways through which you can develop empathy. It’s been proved that meditation makes you more empathetic.

Meditation is a cure offered by the cosmos to humanity. It’s wonderful to heal all our inner wounds and giving birth to new traits inside us as well. As you bring your focus inside yourself, you develop greater understanding towards human emotions. Meditation encourages bringing all your attention inwards.

An empathic person spends a great deal of time in introspection. Spending time with oneself is different from being self-centred.

Self-orientation involves understanding your emotions and behaviour - it teaches us how to understand someone else’s feelings as well.

Empathetic people have more functioning in their right parietal lobe which is also responsible for increasing self-focus.

Some people have an 'empathy switch' which they can turn on and off at will.

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In fact, literature has proved useful for enhancing empathy inside a human. When you read well-written characters, they help you to understand humans and how they work. You get to penetrate inside the mind of a particular character and to see the world through his eyes.

By trying to understand someone else’s point of view, you develop patience and the will to understand something new.

This trait extends to the real world as well where you meet plenty of people—some good, some bad — and they enable you to try and see the world from their perspective as well.

5. You become a good team player.

Besides dedication, hard work, and good skills, there is another thing which is required for being a good team player. It’s empathy.

There should be no competition among the people belonging to the same team, and they should be there for each other during the good and the bad times. A good team is like a family in which people stick together and understand each other.

Richard Yates Fiction Writer

It’s a disease. Nobody thinks or feels or cares anymore; nobody gets excited or believes in anything except their own comfortable little God damn mediocrity.

The difference between a good and a bad team is the level of empathy the members carry. Instead of criticizing each other and letting ego rule you, you should be able to help out your fellow members by getting a deeper insight into their minds.

Not only will it help you to see the wide range of human emotions, but you will also be able to create strategies for your work through it.

Providing the right task to the right person, while considering their strengths and limitations is the sign of a good team player and a good leader.

The 'identifiable victim effect" is the key to engaging empathy.

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Conclusion

We can become a wholly developed human being only when we can cultivate various good traits inside us.

It’s of no use to buy gifts for your friends when you do not spend two minutes of your life talking to them.

No matter how much charity you do, it’s hollow until you feel the pain and despondency of the sufferers. You can spend your entire life earnings over your family, but it’s nothing compared to understanding their needs and emotions correctly.

You can spend your entire life earnings over your family, but it’s nothing compared to understanding their needs and emotions correctly.

Empathy is not all about giving. It also involves receiving. You receive the trust of people. You gain knowledge about people as you observe them. You can even use your empathy to become a successful life coach, psychologist, writer, and the like.

In a world surrounded by chaos and conceitedness, you can become a ray of hope and reduce the pain inflicted by the apathy of incalculable people.

So, are you ready to wear your invisible cape and acquire such a big role?



Why change starts from within: Unleashing your inner potential

Can you guess a common tenet in people that are unhappy?

They blame external factors and other people for the slip-ups and negative events in their life.

Blaming others is a way of avoiding our responsibility and is referred to as the “self-serving bias.”

Blaming or getting angry at others only makes us more irritable and cranky. It makes us negative and lose faith in others. As Robert Anthony said, "When you blame others, you give up your power to change."

See, it's impossible to modify the events occurring in the world around you. You can't change the behavior of the people around you either. So the key is to gain control of the internal dialogue that you tell yourself. 

What are the principles that you live by in your everyday life? What are the hidden beliefs that guide your critical decisions?

The first step is to identify the stories that you tell yourself. You need to be willing to challenge your beliefs. It might be painful to make realisations around your life events.

But once you FEEL, you might just get that internal thrust to ​truly transform your life. Let's explore how you can bring that dormant potential in you to the surface.

Here's how you can analyse yourself...

​Like I briefly mentioned in the introduction, the first step is to cultivate awareness of yourself. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. But most of us continue living in delusion.

A certain set of people are afraid that accepting their weaknesses is equivalent to defeat. So they continue with their erratic behaviour patterns.

Let me tell you the story of Shane Duquette. He was a skinny guy and was always called out by his friends for his weakness. But instead of letting it affect him, he took it as a challenge. He started training hard and managed to put on more than 50 pounds. 

As his story started doing the rounds of internet forums, he built a profitable business out of his weakness.

Managing your weaknesses is dependent on you. You needn't fret over it.

​Similarly, another section of people suffer from constant doubt on their strengths. They have these occasional bursts when they feel all of their achievements are a fluke. And they are in reality a fraud.

If you're among this second kind, then you're suffering from impostor syndrome.

Shane Duquette mentions that even he suffered from this syndrome because the skinniness had become deeply rooted in his identity.​

There is a very simple way of changing your negative habits. Recognize one such habit and don’t do it for 66 days. It might sound tough, but it is like being in a de-addiction program. Take each day as it comes.

Why 66 days? It takes the brain 66 days to get accustomed to a new habit.

The University College London conducted a research study in the year 2009 to understand how much time it takes to form a habit. After examining 96 people over a period of three months, it was found that it takes 66 days for the brain to form a new habit.

Don’t view it as a long duration of 66 days

Every day, wake up and tell yourself “I won't do this today”. If you succeed in doing this for 66 days, your negative habit will go away.

Appreciate people around and be grateful

Look at the good things people are doing. Appreciation and gratitude go a long way in life. In truth, everybody is looking for some form of appreciation.

Thank your parents for bringing you up, appreciate your friends for being there, say thank you to the neighbor who helped you with something.Give a larger tip to the waiter who served you or get coffee for a hard-working colleague.Do something for someone who cannot give you anything in return.For example, a homeless person or an animal. Give them some food to eat or simply some water to drink. Not only will you feel great, but you will also feel “human”. And most of all, remember the following:

“Don’t be concerned about others not appreciating you. Be concerned about you not appreciating others.”

Research shows that being grateful actually improves physical well-being!

Robert A. Emmons and Michael E. McCullough, professors in Department of Psychology, University of California carried out a research study on the effect of appreciation and gratitude on one’s physical and mental well-being. It was found that people who were grateful and appreciative exhibited immense physical and mental well-being.Quoting from the study “conscious focus on blessings may have emotional and interpersonal benefits.”

Appreciation isn’t limited to people alone. Go out and see the environment around you. Take in the fresh air, smell the flowers and listen to the chirping of the birds. Feel at one with nature. Do this for 10 minutes every day and see the difference it makes.

In fact there is a very good way to appreciate things around you. It is known as a “Three good things exercise”. Keep a journal and write down three good things that happened on that day. It could be something you saw or something which you did. A study carried out in 2005 by the University of Berkeley invited people to practice the “three good things exercise”. The participants reported feeling much better after doing it for just a week!

How to change your way of thinking

There is a reason why people do what they do. For example, a person who bullies you at work might be very insecure of himself or herself. Bullies don’t bully because they love to do so. They do so from a deep sense of feeling inadequate.

Similarly, if a person is always laughing hard, even at silly jokes, it means that they are very lonely. Once you understand why people do what they do, you will be at peace. You will learn to be more forgiving and to be more patient.

In a new study carried out by Florida Atlantic University and Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, it was found that human behaviour is a direct result of the person and also of the situation he/she is in.

Another good thing is to stop being judgmental. This story will open your eyes.

Once a man got into a train in the New York Subway. He had two children with him. He sat down at a corner but his children kept standing. They started behaving strangely. Then they started crying very loudly. After hearing their loud crying for few minutes, some passengers asked the man to get down or to calm his children. He got up and on his way out he told them, “their mother just died, they just don’t know what to do”.

This story explains why being judgmental doesn’t help at all.​

Being judgmental without knowing anything is simply unkind. And it makes us unhappy.

Amy Cuddy is a professor at Harvard Business School and she studies why people are in the habit of judging others instantly. She, along with two other psychologists Peter Glick (Lawrence University) and Susan Fiske (Princeton University) recently learned that people judge others based on fixed criteria. The first one is whether the person has good intentions and the second one is whether he/she can actually act on those intentions.

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them” - Mother Teresa
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How to forgive and forget

It may not always be easy to forgive people. For instance, it is very difficult to forgive a person who cheated on you. However, you have to look at it in a different way. That person is gone from your life today because of what he or she did. You are free from him or her.

You are not being cheated on anymore.

You can always forget about what happened and move on. Being in the past will only make you bitter and depressed. Being angry all the time because of what happened is only going to hurt you, and no one else.

According to a study conducted by Universitat Internacional de Catalunya and University of Munich, forgiveness has a direct impact on forgetting an incident!

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intention of throwing it at others: you are the one who gets burned” - Buddha

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Tips to forgive and forget·

  • Admit to feelings of anger rather than admitting to feeling nothing at all. Then work on them to get them out of your system·
  • See if you can learn something from it.There are very high chances that you will.

Forgiveness isn’t a one-time thing. Practice it daily. Had a fight with your friend? Go ahead and call them up! Try to be the bigger person in situations like these.

Live clutter-free: Simplify your life

Life is actually very simple. It is we who complicate it. How do we make it complicated?

By over thinking!

Yes, over thinking is actually a thing.

For instance, you are on your way to work and you see somebody and wave at them. This somebody doesn’t wave back at you or even look at you. You start thinking that this person is avoiding you for no reason at all!Then you start wondering why!Then you start getting angry because you cannot find a valid reason!Then you start plotting ways to get back at the person for avoiding you!After wasting your whole day behind this, you meet the same person while leaving office. They are happy to see you and greet you. You ask them why they avoided you in the morning.Then they tell you that they didn’t even see you!

See? How over-thinking ruins our lives!

According to research conducted by Stanford University, overthinking actually kills our creativity.The results of the study showed that the participants who thought the least about what they were doing were more creative.

Tips to avoid over-thinking:

  • Take things as they are. See things as they are. Don’t start spinning elaborate tales in your mind as soon as something bad happens.
  • Clean up your desk. Clean up your room. Trash things you don’t need. Let go of that pair of jeans which doesn’t fit you anymore.In other words, make life simple!

Do not try to control everything

Everything happens for a reason. You may not see it immediately, but you will. And when you do, you will be a much happier person. We humans think we can control everything. However, can we really? Tomorrow, an earthquake might come and destroy everything we have. Sounds harsh, but it is entirely possible, right?

According to research done by Universidad de Spain, the Universidad de Deusto, Spain, and the University College London, control is an illusion. The following abstract confirms it.It was found that the illusion of control is so strong that human beings overestimate their power of controlling things which are beyond them. The results support the thinking that the more people think they can control a situation, the deeper is their illusion”.

Things which are in our control

  • Our breathing
  • Our talking
  • Our body language
  • Our Sleep
  • Our diet

Things which are not in our control

  • People and their actions
  • Natural Disasters
  • Situations
  • Environment

Do not try to control everything. Do not try to control people. Control is an illusion. We make it up to keep ourselves happy. Live your life happily. Make your existence count.

Conclusion

Being aware of our self is the key to everything. If you can think you can do something, you can actually do it. You should at least try. Giving up without trying will make you feel helpless.

Be aware that you can do it. That changes everything. You have the power to achieve everything you need.Notice how I said need and not want.Understand that there is a difference between “want” and “need”.We may not need everything we want, but we always need what we need.

So, do you have everything you need?