Is compassion dead?
Judging by the daily news, it does seem to be on life support. Yet, alive. What would it really take to restore faith in humanity? Of course i don’t have the answer to a question better suited for the Creator of said humanity. However, i wholeheartedly believe Empathy is a great place to start.
Would you go out of your way to assist a complete stranger in obvious need? Are you so busy that you cant willingly offer a shoulder to cry on? Its almost like we are in a state of self worship. Are we so self adsorbed that it slightly frustrates us to share the cares of others?
As a nation, our responsiveness to the needs of others seem to be at great lows. The poor continue to get poor. The rich continue to get rich. Yet, the undeserved seems to always be left on the outside looking in. This is why its important to show love on a local level. Those within an arms reach of us need the emotional embrace that just says yes, someone else cares.
Empathy is crucial to virtually every human interaction. It is certainly needed in our closest relationships, civil or social.
While sympathy understanding is a must, it isn’t quite the same as empathy. Both require a certain level of sensitivity to pick up on, track and then act in alliance with others.
For the positive thinker being sensitive and showing sympathy to our friends and family is a non negotiable.
Lets look at the differences here.
To be sympathetic means that you relate to how a person feels.
- If a person’s mother has recently passed away then you can show sympathy by acknowledging that that was a tragedy, that it was a sad occasion, that the person must feel saddened, and that you also feel saddened.
To be empathetic means that you relate to how a person thinks.
- If a person’s mother has recently passed away then you could relate your thoughts and actions when your own mother, father or other close relative passed away.
The truth is, not one of us can be strong all of the time. It is in those moments of weakness where we may need rest on the fortitude of a friend. When I begin to question my own durability it is typically a friend that will remind me of past victories that are a testament to a sound foundation.
Here are a 3 simple ways we can offer empathy.
This seems like an elementary concept but listening is an underdeveloped art for many. The essence of proper listening requires a couple of things. It often suggest restating and affirming that you hear and understand what is being said. Other expressing those things, resist the temptation to talk. I know that can be hard to do, but sometimes others just need an ear and a shoulder, not a lip.
Sharing is caring. Sharing (at the appropriate time) your own positive personal experiences has the potential to encourage others that things will work out well. Sharing is also healing. When opening up about your past it not only can help others but it also continues your healing process. When we identify with each other, a sense of community continues.
There is a level of action in true empathy. If you know a tried and true solution to a person’s predicament then certainly assist them. But proceed with caution. Its one thing to offer an opinion and another to offer a solution. Make sure you speak up if you can offer real value, if not just stick to lending a listening ear.
There is a fine line between showing empathy and agreement. Sometimes a person can get so beat up by life that they begin to engage others in their anguish. Politely turn down any invitations to pity parties.
I’m not talking co-misery here, i’m talking empowerment!
- If someone owes you, have mercy on them.
- If someone is hungry, feed them.
- If someone is mourning, console them.
Its high time we return to the virtues that make us civilized beings. Virtues of peace, morals, love and respect. Lets start today with empathy.
Remember, if you sow the seed of compassion, sympathy and empathy, that is exactly what you will reap when you need it most.