The obvious problem and the obvious solution.
Empathy is a genuine response that connects us with others and helps us understand others’ feelings but also brings closer to the idea of shared humanity. Without empathy, undoubtedly, this world would be a very hostile place to live in. It is indeed very comforting to be sure that there are others who are going to understand you and this makes life, even at the hardest of times, at least bearable. When we get across people who lack it, is when we really can get a glimpse of this dystopian empathy-free world.
Unfortunately, sometimes people who suffer from mental health issues are the ones treated in a non-considerate way. There are various reasons for this… Maybe others are trying to disassociate themselves from them because of fear about what life holds for them. It might be that they have not learned the skill, or they do not know how to express empathy or better, compassion. Maybe they are affected by the social group they are in. Who knows?
I personally do not think that the focus should be on judging others’ behaviour. All kind of behaviour is understandable after all and it should be treated with understanding although it might not feel or be right. I personally always try to enhance my behaviour and I am asking you to do the same. By recognizing that empathy is needed around us it gives us the opportunity to become more social, to strengthen and give value to our closest relationships. It also motivates us to help and support others. How can we actively do this? I am going to tell you what I am willing to do…
- I will make a list of people that I feel they need to talk to someone and try to talk to them.
- I will try to look people in the eyes and say ‘thank you’ and ‘sorry’ when I feel it is needed.
- I will try to understand others better as a habit.
- I will try to connect even when I feel angry or afraid.
- I will try to be compassionate and care about others.
- I will try to create social awareness about mental health.
I challenge you too, to engage in connecting with others in authentic ways. The benefits of empathy are not just for the person who ‘receives’ it but it has benefits for all of us. Some examples are:
- Empathy makes us feel good and healthy, emotionally and physically.
- It helps us build good relationships.
- It helps us get closer to our values.
- It helps us prevent conflicts as most conflicts start from misunderstandings.
- It is a great opportunity to feel empowered and be proactive.
“Be the change you want to see in the world”
Gandhi said it but I confess… I had to google it 🙂
I hope you are having an amazing day!