1. feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.“they had great sympathy for the flood victims”
compassion, caring, concern, solicitude, empathy
1. the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Sometimes it can be hard for us to see outside or our own bubble of stress! Depending on our experiences, we can either become more enlightened or jaded towards other people’s behaviors, actions, or dilemmas. It’s easy to judge others from afar, but it’s much harder to walk a mile in their shoes. It’s almost completely impossible to have empathy for others in every single situation, but you can at least develop some kind of sympathy towards the person and their situation. Here’s where having empathy and sympathy has helped me personally lately.
Putting Yourself in Other People’s Shoes
Even though many of us have had to deal with hardships such as death of a loved one, losing a job, or a break up, each situation can be completely different due to external circumstances. Sometimes a combination of these unique pressures can affect how we handle the situation at hand. Most of us are not particularly great under pressure, but some of us get through tough situations better than others. Even if you’ve never been in the other person’s shoes exactly before, try to take a moment and mentally put yourself there. If you can at least get to a point mentally where you understand why that person is acting the way they are, it can change your entire perspective.
Using Understanding to Act Accordingly
I like to think of myself as an empathetic person, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve developed this “why not” mentality. To get where I am today, I’ve been extremely hard on myself. Anytime someone would say why they couldn’t do something I’d internally think the person was making up excuses or simply trying to play the victim. Even though in some cases that still might have been true, many times I didn’t realize what was going on in the background of that person’s life. Generally speaking, we all have negative things happening or that have happened in our personal lives and we continue to try to be the best human beings that we can be. Sometimes though, these things can have such a large impact on our personality that we lash out as an indirect way of asking for help. It’s the job of close friends and family to recognize and act on that call for help instead of pushing that person even further over the edge. Believe me, it’s a lot harder than it sounds. We all get caught up in the daily pressures of life sometimes that it can be hard to stop and have the empathy needed for helping out.
Avoiding Repeat Mistakes in the Future
Sometimes having empathy can be extremely difficult and cause you a lot of stress and depression. For those that I really care about, I tend to take all of what they’re going through to heart on top of the things that are going wrong in my life. I’ll admit, it can be hard to bear sometimes. Each time something like this happens and you can help that person get through it, the goal is that both of you learn how to avoid it in the future. Even though this is something that can definitely work, just remember that you cannot help someone who doesn’t want to help themselves at all. It takes someone wanting to change their current situation for anything to result in a positive manner. Without this basic desire to want improvement, the same mistakes are bound to happen again.
For those of you going through something right now, please find a way to ask for help! Some of your loved ones won’t have any idea you need it if you don’t make it more obvious. For those of you who are trying to help others, remember to stay strong and to lay off initial judgements. I know these situations can be incredibly difficult, but I’m hoping this week’s advice can help!
Infographic of the Week:
Question of the Week:
How has empathy directly impacted your life?