What Is This Thing Called ’empathy’ For You?

When someone needs help, we tend to get so caught up in the moment that we forget about them. That’s an extremely uncomfortable and dangerous place to be.

It’s the equivalent to an animal trying to get along in the wild. As in, “I have no idea how he found the river, but he can’t leave without help.” This is a really dangerous tendency for humans and an area where it is truly important to have a good understanding of empathy — you have to learn to get past your own limitations and see the needs of another fully.

To put it simply, empathy is the ability to understand another’s point of view and have compassion for them. It’s a way of getting beyond yourself and of recognizing that we are all human beings at the same time.

I would love to get to the heart of it, but let’s start off by breaking up with the clich√© and just asking “what does it actually mean to have empathy?”

In the book A World Without Monsters: The Futuristic Consequences of Radical Science , Dr. Michael Thomsen, the author of the piece, writes: ¬† “Empathy helps us understand the needs of others; it’s the opposite of judgment.”

You can really see the power of this statement. You see how we are quick to turn our backs on the needs of others because we have a different opinion about a situation or something that is going on. We tend to assume that since we speak one way about “us” we should speak another way when talking to those that disagree with us. That is not only wrong but very arrogant from that perspective.

By having a solid understanding of empathy, we can actually see the other side of the argument as well rather than just being an “us” vs “them” type of person. You can say to the person with the cold, empty eyes, “it sounds like they’re having a pretty bad day”. By getting past our own views, we are able to see in a different lens.

A quick look at the book Emotional Intelligence , which I found fascinating, will tell you that there is a big difference between what are commonly labeled “emotional intelligence” and the ability to really look at a situation in a more open way.

I love the phrase on page 3: “You’re not the smartest person in the world, you just think you are the smartest people out there.” Not only does not this put one down because we don’t have a genius IQ, however it points out that we as people really are nothing more than a bunch of different ideas and thoughts that form the big picture and allow us to make decisions. We all don’t have to be right. We can still use our “intuition” and think about things in a different way to be in the right place at the right time . That’s why we should all be empathic people . It’s the ultimate way to see everything with a larger perspective. It’s an understanding of our own limitations and the need for humility that can be very helpful and can make you a more powerful person.

This concept of empathy is something that all humans have to have to do in order to be human. It is something we all work towards. It requires work. It demands a certain level of maturity and humility, but once you have it, it’s quite simply the best thing you can have.

We need more empathy.