July 28, 2012

Empathy is like a warm blanket that soothes what ails us. Who couldn’t use an empathy cat?

Empathy is the ability to sense the feelings of others… to put ourselves in the shoes of another.When it’s applied, it feels really, really good.

I’m sure we all know people who are challenged in that area, whose only interest is their own feelings. That’s a shame, because empathy’s a necessary trait for any healthy human relationship.

I used to think that only sociopaths couldn’t empathize. I don’t think that any more. Here are some things I’ve noticed about people without empathy:

Some seem cold and unemotional.
Or are completely self-focused. It’s all about them.
They judge others only by their own standards of what the others “should” be doing and when others fail, they can’t see past the “should” to the root cause.
Some can sympathize, which is feeling sorry for another. But that’s not the same as empathy.
Some can’t empathize because anger or pain acts blocks their ability to put themselves in another’s shoes.
Others are fatalistic to the extreme. “I can’t do anything about it, so….”
And still others are afraid to let any true feeling at all in. Including empathy.


Here’s what empathy takes: it takes listening to another person. Active listening.  Really taking in what they’re saying and the feeling behind it. Seeing beyond yourself. And setting aside the tendency to describe yourself and your own feelings.

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