Having Empathy for others not only increases one’s value in the eyes of others but is also a major contributor for successful, and satisfying romantic relationships. Empathy is the ability to see a point of view from another’s perspective, even when their perspective is different from yours. It is when you let another know that they make sense, even if you don’t agree. For example, ” I see why you want to go to that movie, it got great reviews and you like movies with action and some violence but it’s really not my kind of movie and I’d prefer if you go with someone else”. Being able to tell your partner that they make sense, other than shaming them or putting them down for their feeling or choice is a component of empathy.
Many couples come to couples counseling hoping their partner will develop more empathy. Developing empathy in therapy can be easily achieved when two people want a closer relationship. The rewards empathy brings is not only bonding but also lasting. Many people express in therapy that they want empathy from their parents or family members in hopes of being acknowledged and more understood.
Again, you don’t have to have the same experience to have empathy. I knew a man whose house burned down to the ground. He had a wife and 3 children who subsequently had to temporarily live with a neighbor and who lost everything in the fire. He said what helped him the most was when someone responded with empathy saying how difficult it must be to have lost everything and to have to start over. We all know what it’s like to have to start over and to feel like we have lost everything. Connecting with the feeling, is empathy. We don’t have to have the same experience.
The following article explains more on empathy. Try and empathize today. See how it touches others in your life and notice what it can do for you.
Ordinary Empathy- Is It Truly Ordinary?
Posted: 4/01/2014 15:00
Behavior going right requires no explanation. Successful behavior is ordinary. Empathy is ordinary in the same way.
Empathy is a fundamental feature of emotional competence. In the average expected, good enough maturation, people naturally acquire empathic skills as they interact with others, but some circumstances and manners of parenting are more conducive to fostering empathy than others. We don’t always need to be empathic, but when a situation calls for mutual understanding, a lack of empathy requires explanation. Under normal circumstances, people make sense to each other, and when they don’t, we expect people to be able to figure out why.
Without the right degree of empathy, ordinary social interaction would be hard. Negotiation would be difficult. Moral discourse would be impossible. Improvisational play would be stilted, at best.
Empathic skill is a standing condition of normal personality, a competence required for engaging in social practices if those practices are to have the character of “flow”, attunement, harmony, or the dance-like features of improvisational play. Intimacy requires empathy. Love, work and play are based on this shared competence. When there isn’t sufficient empathic skill there’s pathology. Such deficits interfere with the ability to engage in certain vital relationships, especially where compassion and intimacy are required.
Empathy is the core of our intimate acts. Intimacy is understood as empathy plus a willingness to share vulnerability. In an intimate act, we let someone else see our most vulnerable features. Intimacy involves the risk and the hope that our vulnerability will be treated carefully and kindly.
We experience someone as empathic when they demonstrate that they appreciate our intentions and the significance of our actions in a manner that respects our toleration for being known. Empathic action requires an appreciation of what a person intends through recognizing their reasons for action, what they know about their relevant circumstances, what skill or competence they have relevant to what they are trying to do, and the significance of this performance to them. Empathic action involves acknowledging this without anyone feeling overwhelmed or violated.
Special thanks to Pam Evans and CJ Stone for offering far better ways to say what I had expressed awkwardly.
Written By Wynn Schwartz Ph.D
Ordinary Empathy was originally published @ Freedom, Liberation and Reaction: Lessons in Psychology and has been syndicated with permission.
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