All over the world media makes a big deal of the human trait of empathy. We are always reminded to step in the shoes of our fellow humans and look at the situation from their perspective. Empathy is being kicked around so often that it runs the risk of being rendered meaningless. The more people repeat it, the more clueless people are about what it really means. It really is quite sad because empathy is necessary for emotional intelligence.
There are no two ways about it, this is an inescapable fact. If you want to become a more effective emotional person, and be in touch with your emotional intelligence and make it work for you, you have to know what empathy is and how to use it.
Meaning of empathy
Empathy means being able to look at any situation from the perspective of people in reacting with that situation. You may not necessarily like these people, they may not have anything in common with you, but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are able to step out of the crushing gravitational pull of your own ego and pride to step into their shoes.
As you can imagine, this requires a tremendous amount of programming because that’s not how people wire themselves. Most of us look at the world in selfish terms. We think the world revolves around us. In fact, too many of us think that once we die, the world dies with us because we’re no longer there to witness what’s going on. You know that that’s a lie. You don’t have to be a philosophy major in college to understand the concept of absolute truth.
The world does not revolve around you
The world existed before you, it exists now and will continue to exist long after you’re gone. That’s reality. How does this play out it terms of logic? Well, if you see a cat, it doesn’t really matter if it has stripes or spots, or has many colors or only one. Once you understand the form of a cat, you know that cats exist.
The same goes with the world. If you can understand the concept of reality, then you know that reality exists whether you’re there to observe it or not.
The problem is a lot of people assume that they are the center of their universe. This is why empathy merely gets lip service. It’s very hard for us to stay away from the gravitational pull of our pride and egos. You would rather imagine that everything turns around us.
Master the art of empathy
This is why it’s really important to master the art of empathy. Ironically enough, to become a more empathetic person, you must first become more emotionally self-aware. In other words, to be selfless, you must first become selfish and self-absorbed.
Are the emotions that you’re feeling what you think they are? Are you able to effectively communicate these emotions in an objectively clear way? Once you have answered these and other fundamental questions, can you make serious progress when it comes to empathy?
Make no mistake, if you want to become a better leader, more sexually attractive to members of the opposite sex, become a persuasive person all around and otherwise live a more fulfilling and effective life, empathy is part of the picture.
Be sure to also read Are your emotional coping skills preventing you from achieving career success?