The Power of Empathy

You know the saying, "don’t judge anyone before you walk a mile in their shoes"? Maybe you have said something like this to someone if they have judged you too quickly? Feeling misunderstood is so common, which is why it is so sad that people are so quick to judge. This quote is saying not to judge someone before you understand what their life is like and where they are coming from. This quote underlies the definition of empathy, to understand other people. Empathy is the ability to understand another person’s feelings and emotions through a situation. When you have empathy for someone, you are able to connect with them on a deeper level. Deeper than just listening to them (although listening is wonderful). Empathy creates an ability to feel what they are feeling.

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https://www.thedailystar.net/shout/echoes/empathy-looking-others-through-their-eyes-1554670

Empathy is not just about having emotions, but it comes from a place of patience to understand another person’s feelings and emotions. You can know what anger feels like for you, but another person may have a totally different experience with anger. Asking questions like, “what does __ look like for you?” or, “can you explain how __ makes you feel?” can allow for conversations that can include more in-depth explanation. Empathy is powerful because vulnerability is brave. When something brave, like showing pieces of your heart to someone unfolds, that is a powerful moment. Let me tell you, being brave does not always feel brave. Having the courage to invite someone in to be empathetic, and being brave to have empathy for someone else is power. Empathy isn’t just something that can be used only in friendships. Empathy can be used in a marriage, leadership, politics, and work. Having a boss that asks you how you’ve been feeling, making political decisions while considering the feelings of others, or going to couple’s therapy and honestly hearing your partners’ perspective and how they feel are all brief examples of what empathy can look like. When you start to utilize empathy, you’ll begin to see that people are generally good, and have something of value to the world. When you start to look at people as individuals with feelings, a perspective and a voice, they aren’t just people anymore. They matter. They are someone worth listening to and worth the time to try to  understand. It was Morgan Harper Nichols that once said, “Empathy, let me hold the door for you. I may have never walked in your shoes, but I can see your soles are worn, your strength is torn under the weight of a story I have never lived before. Let me hold the door for you. After all that you have walked through, it is the least that I can do.”

Image result for empathyhttps://uxplanet.org/empathy-the-foundation-of-a-great-design-9b1887497c09

My encouragement in the midst of finals and the holiday season is to sit with someone and share a moment together. Hold the door open for them, and really listen to someone and try to understand their point of view fully from their personal perspective. It’s a powerful thing to truly understand where someone is coming from. Never underestimate the power of vulnerability and empathy and how it can widen your lens.