Some people are just naturally empathic. They always seem to say the right thing whenever someone is in a situation and it always seems to comfort the other person. Then there is everyone else.
Although empathy is a gift, it is not beyond others’ ability to learn and practice it.
Understanding more about empathy will help you determine how to put more of it into your life. You will find it is a good trait to have in most circumstances.
What is Empathy All About?
Empathy is being able to understand where another person is in a situation from their point of view, almost like you were going through it yourself.
Many people can sympathize but fewer can empathize. Sympathy is when someone becomes emotional by someone else’s feelings or thoughts but still maintains distance. They feel bad for the person but don’t have the same feelings the person has.
An empathic person reacts as if the event is happening to them as well. This can be the most troubling part of possessing the gift. Some may not understand why they are having these feelings when they aren’t part of a situation.
3 Types of Empathy
Many people don’t realize there is more than one type of empathy. There are actually three:
Cognitive empathy is head knowledge of what the person is thinking and how they are feeling. This makes you think of ways to help but you are still at an emotional distance.
Emotional empathy is when your start feeling things another feels without going through the same experience. For instance, you may feel a sense of pain or cringe when you see someone fall or get injured. Your emotional empathy extended to physical sensations.
Compassionate empathy is putting action behind the feelings. This is where we go into action to help others. Ironically, having the other two types of empathy is what keeps us with a clear head so we don’t act impulsively or feel overcome with a burden.
How Society Benefits From Empathy
Needless to say, the world can use more empathy. Certain professions, like teaching, healthcare, and church work are perfect for those with a strong sense of empathy. Empathy creates better outcomes too.
Massachusetts General Hospital did a 2016 study and found empathy was a primary consideration in hospital satisfaction. Other studies show that those who were cared for by empathic caregivers have better outcomes, including shorter hospital stays and quicker recovery times.
What Can You Do?
You can practice putting empathy into your life! Start off with just one person a week. Focus on how to really be empathic to the one person in your life. You can start by asking them questions about how they feel about things. Really listen. That is where empathy starts.