When we can understand someone’s feelings from their perspective and don’t stand in judgment, we have the ability to empathise.

Empathy isn’t something we’re born with, it’s something we can learn and practise, but it’s not something we will all develop. To have empathy, we must put ourselves in another person’s shoes and feel what that person feels.

Some of us have natural empathetic tendencies, whilst others don’t. Some of us don’t notice the feelings in others, while others simply can’t be bothered to notice, but most of us will be somewhere in the middle and will understand in part how someone else feels. In the main, we tend to ignore how others feel when we’re not coping well ourselves.

If our parents have empathy, we can learn about it from them. But even if our parents don’t have empathy, there is no reason why we can’t learn it. Empathy comes from within us, and from what we see around us.

Because I was a child growing up with physical and emotional difficulties, I innately understood how others felt. I learned very early on what empathy was. I could see someone else’s suffering through my own suffering and that enabled me to easily relate.

We have to understand what others go through, we have to want to care and help others, to see things from their point of view.

It is important we have empathy. Society works better with it and although that relies on the greater good, when we use empathy, we will always get the best out of each other.

4 Jul, 2013

10 thoughts on “Empathy

  1. I have always had empathy as far as I remember. I guess that’s one reason I became a nurse. I wasn’t thinking of the money I would make, I thought about helping others. I decided to be a nurse when I was 8 years old.

    You’re right, empathy is learned and it’s sad how many people don’t learn it. In today’s world people are too busy to care about what others are going through.

    I think there should be a class required in school about empathy. It may improve our society. I think people would get along better because they would understand where the other person was coming from. I also strongly believe it should be taught in medical schools.

    Not a lot of doctors know how to empathize with their patients and that’s just sad.

    1. I agree with you Lisa that doctors’ bedside manners don’t quite match that of their skill. I also agree that as part of their training they should be taught to empathise, particularly when they’re learning about patient’s and their needs.

      It’s probably not up to school to teach children about empathy. To be honest it’s up to the parents to teach their children. That is my belief.

  2. I agree with everything you’ve said here. I know that I am not big on empathy; it doesn’t come naturally to me and I could certainly do better.

    1. At least you know you’re not big on empathy. The hardest part is admitting that you’re not and you’ve managed that. Unfortunately it’s what we know and have learned from an early age, which is why most adults find it difficult.

      We’re all capable of showing and being empathetic towards other people. I am sure in time you can too.

  3. I have always had empathy for people and animals suffering from predicaments they find themselves in.

    It’s the ability to feel the pain of others and the fear of suffering a similar fate. Excellent post.

    1. Thanks Tim. You’ve summed up your response beautifully. I have nothing more that I feel I need to add.

    2. I have a very strong empathy when it comes to animals and children. I can’t stand to hear about or the thought of an animal being ‘put down.’ I just want to cry. Animals are helpless and innocent just as children are.

      Today’s society is so lacking when it comes to empathy. The things you hear on TV news programs are proof of it. The things people do to children and animals are especially horrid!

      I agree with you. Parents should teach their children about empathy.

  4. I always had a very strong sense of empathy when I was a child but quickly lost it over time as it became a liability in the world I was growing up in.

    It turned into more of a sense of being able to read people (good or bad) which was probably the only thing that saved me from ending up as a picture on a milk carton!

    I don’t usually discuss it with a lot of people since they don’t really believe in ‘Empaths!’ Eventually I ended up disassociating to the point where I wasn’t feeling anything which can be a nightmare in itself.

    People aren’t very understanding when it comes to someone being very sensitive. I’ve seen the worst that humanity has to offer so it’s kind of no wonder that I’m damaged.

    Right now I feel like I’ve been in a coma most of my life and have to learn how to just be a human being at this point! It means reconnecting with parts of myself and old feelings that I spent a long time burying!

    I’m hoping and praying that I can finally let go of a lot of it.

    1. I can resonate Randy with some of what you’re saying.

      From my interpretation of what you’ve written, you understand yourself and your life greatly but chose to emotionally withdraw as a means of protecting yourself so that you didn’t get hurt any more than you had to.

      As a child this was also a means of protecting myself. I would revert inside of myself until I felt strong enough or had no choice but to go back in and deal with things. As the adult we cannot always do this.

      I hope you manage to turn things around.

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