We see the world as we are in it …….and so we need to learn to look at the world through different lenses. Ones that allow us to see and appreciate different perspectives and experiences. Empathy is different than compassion and it must be taught. While most of us were raised with values that helped us to develop compassion for others. Empathy requires us to take perspective and to understand the experiences of others by appreciating circumstances from their vantage point, not our own. Developing empathy is vital to a successful life. It allows us to live outside of our own world reality and to appreciate that others have a very different journey. Often judgement clouds our appreciation of another’s plight. From where you are, it may seem that certain people should know better, do better, or be better.
In fact whenever should appears in your narrative, you are judging….and judging and empathy can never exist together. Judgement reveals a superiority in our thinking; that we have decided how things must be and anything else is wrong, and we are right. Judgement sets the individual up to be judged by others. So we must be mindful of how we look at the world. Just because we have a grownup body, doesn’t mean we are an adult. An adult is someone who takes responsibility for themselves and their actions. An adult is someone who can say what is on their mind without attacking you. Adults accept their own mistakes and give themselves the benefit of the doubt knowing that they are human; and by virtue of this, they can accept the same in others. Empathy well developed facilitates this kind of strength and maturity. Today be the silent watcher of your thoughts and words…..because empathy really does matter.
Brene Brown said “In the growing body of empathy research, we are finding that successful leaders often demonstrate high levels of empathy; that empathy is related to academic and professional success. that it can reduce aggression and prejudice and increase altruism. Studies also show that it’s a vital component in successful marriages and effective organizations. The bottom line is that empathy is essential for building meaningful, trusting, relationships, which is something we all want and need. Given its power to overcome shame and its key role in building many different types of connections, empathy is something we would all be wise to learn and practice.”
By Lisa Scott Executive Life Coach