Empathy is our ability to understand and share the feelings of others. To show empathy we have to stop for a moment and think about how others are feeling. We don’t have to know someone’s full story, or even them at all, to be able to understand what they are feeling and be empathetic towards them. To show empathy towards someone doesn’t mean we are trying to fix their situation or their problems, but mostly that we sit and listen, and are simply just with them in their feelings. Empathy is the act of being able to sit with a person and say “wow, that must be hard” without judgement, fixing, or taking the light off of whatever they are experiencing. Empathy is showing up and being with someone.
In previous posts, SHINE has talked about mindfulness. Interestingly enough, in mindfulness practice, the first and most primary thing to any feelings is to listen to them. Instead of trying to avoid, get away from, explain, rationalize, fix, solve, or push down any feelings that come up during a mindfulness practice, mindfulness is about simply allowing yourself to feel and experience your emotions without any judgement! When we give ourselves the space needed to feel our emotions, they can do their job of communicating essential information about our needs and values. Once our emotions have been “heard” by us – having received our full, most conscious attention – they can move on their way.
The more we can give our emotions attention, the more patience we have to be with other’s feelings in a relaxed and spacious manner. This relaxed and spacious presence and empath is healing; it’s what so many of us, regardless of our age, are hungry for.
- Try watching this fun video from the movie Inside Out! Observe how Sadness and Joy show empathy towards BingBong.
- Which character would you want by your side when you are sad? How were they different in showing empathy?
- Sesame Street on Empathy
- Brene Brown on Empathy