I am giving you more tips how you can improve your empathic ability.
– Our brain in the course of our functioning reflecting the reality psychically. So when we see someone doing something we are able to feel exactly the same emotion what the other person does. When children observe their parents they exactly feel the same feeling what their parents do or experience. So if we want to teach our children being empathic be and act like an empathic person. Children’s brain will reflect our emotions and will improve their empathy ability.
– Do not judge anyone without knowing exactly his/her situation, past or mental condition. Before you do, try to imagine yourself in the same situation (put yourself into her/his shoes) and ask yourself how would I feel or what I would do. Also very important to know that, we are not perfect, none of us, so since we are not, we don’t have the moral right to judge another person.
– Strive to observe people. We all do it automatically in restaurants, on bus, on streets or in supermarkets. Try to invent a story about people who we can see on a street for example. Who are they? How are they connected to each other? What are they fears? What is their hobby? We don’t need to guess right the answers but this exercise helps us to improve reading people and understand them better.
– We are all willing to believe we are right in a debatable situation and our opinion is the only one correct and right train of thoughts. Like a “final truth”. This is a natural prejudice of human being toward themselves which come from we spontaneously defend ourselves, looking for self-justification and with it we try to make stronger our self-esteem and self-confidence. We make stronger again and again the belief system which has been built since childhood. What we already have believed are true till now, we reinforce them again and refuse everything else unintentionally. We reinforce exist pre-conjecture in every each expression of an opinion. But if we consciously pay attention not to believe just our logical line of thinking is the only one right way, we step out our habitual schemas of thinking and will find other possible mode of approximation. We can easily realize that for every problem there are several good solutions.
– Read more novels. Researches showed those people who read novels regularly have a better developed empathic ability than non-readers. Novels help us to be able to step in other characters shoes and understanding their feelings.
– If you we feel like it, write a story about someone. We need empathy to figure out a character, create its world of thoughts and write about it.
– Be nice! Kindness improves empathic ability by itself. Namely if we are kind with someone spontaneously we are able to feel that person better, we are more open minded and our feelings are more positive. Kindness also help to feel and love ourselves better.
The empathic brain
Brain researchers already have been identified 10 empathy-net in human brain. If those empathy-nets get damaged we won’t be able to understand other people’s emotions. Psychologists highlighted that experience strong bantering relationships in the first two years teach children to be empath. Empathy doesn’t stop to develop in childhood, with effort we are able to improve it any time and age. We are able to use it as a power resource to reach social changes. Social, psychological and historical researches highlight how empathy is able to become attitude/approach and through it amend others’ life around us.
6 interesting characteristics of a person with high empathic ability.
1. Curious to strangers, foreigners
High empathic people maintain their childhood curiosity (our society tries to extinguish well our curiosity) they talk with people on a bus who is sitting next to them for instance. They find more interesting other people than themselves, talk with them but without questioning or intrusion. “Don’t be an observer, but curious!” Result of curiosity we are able to meet other people, food, culture, lives and point of views which are out of our social environment, hereby improving our empathy. Curiosity is a significant personality characteristic and able to increase our feeling of general satisfaction. Balm for chronic loneliness as well. Improving our curiosity doesn’t mean we talk about weather, it is all about being opened to understand another’s world concept. We have opportunity to see and meet interesting foreign people. Like the post man with tattoo or our new colleague who is eating alone. We just need to have a bit of bravery and start a conversation with a foreign person weekly. Try and you will see, you will experience amazing things which are still hidden from you.
2. Focusing on similarities instead of prejudice
We all have prejudices, we all use labels. For instance: Muslim, fundamentalist, careful mother. High empath people look for in which they are similar with others rather than in which they are different from them. With this attitude they reduce preconception and prejudices toward others. Empathy is able to overwrite hate, racism and segregation.
3. Gaining experiences
High empath people gain direct experiences about other people’s life. George Orwell is an inspirational example of it. He served as a policeman is Burma and after returned to England and wanted to know more about people who are on the periphery of society. He dressed as a vagabond and lived together with homeless on street in East-London. He realized homeless people not just drunk villains, he made friendships with them. He realized empathy not just make you better but also is good for those who practice it. We all can make an experience like he did. If you are religious, try to have a conversation with someone who is from another religion, or have a conversation with someone who seems like completely different than you. “Every real knowledge is gained by experience.”
4. Attentive and opened
To understand another person necessary to be able to be in the moment as a listener, being able to understand what is going on in the person, what feelings she/he has and what he/she needs. Understanding listening unfortunately is not enough, we must become vulnerable as well. We must able to remove our mask and show our emotions to another. This is necessary for empathic connection. Empathy is a two-way street, based on reciprocal understanding, when we share our core beliefs and experiences with each other. The Israeli-Palestine “The Parents Circle” translated this to practice. Put together both sides (Israeli-Palestine) bereaved parents to talk about themselves and listen to each other. After they shared with each other how they lost their children, they realized even if they have a wall between them (built by politicians) they go through the same pain and great loss. This helped to establish the greatest peace maker campaign.
5. Inspiring others
Empathy can be also a mass phenomenon as well. Like we started liberating slaves. It happened because liberators believed in empathy. They did everything to make other people to understand how slaves suffers on boats and plantations. Or after the tsunami in 2004, concentration of forces to help locals. It was made by empathy after shocking pictures and report were shown by media. The core of empathy should be planted in our childhood. Canadian program the “Roots of empathy” is one the best groundbreaker on this field. Already more than half a million children have participated in it. Its own unique syllabus of a course focuses on teaching emotional intelligence from infancy. Results of this program are significantly decreased number of playground violence, bullying and increased performance in school.
6. Having ambitious dreams
Highly empathic people empathize with those who with they don’t have same views or even if they are opponent on another field. Empathizing with our opponent is also a way to social tolerance. As Gandhi said when India got its independence; “I am Muslim. And Hindu and Christian and Jew.” Also organization should make effort to establish empathic way of thinking. Regarding to Bill Clayton to survive in our fast technological development we must become a master in empathic ability; it contributes to success of leadership and supports teamwork.
The 20th century was the age of self-analyses, when self-help and therapeutic culture gained ground; encouraged us to look into ourselves to understand ourselves and life. Like this we just gazed our own belly-button. I always feel and see how our society just have taken a direction being more and more narcissist and negligent. Most of the people suffer from them and looking for solution. Everybody want change but no one wants to change. We always see that, the problem is in another person and just really rare times we see, we should change. The 21st century should be the age of empathy. The age when exploring ourselves comes not just from self-reflection but interest of other people’s life, point of view or believes. We don’t need to build upon new laws, institutions or directives. If we want to have a “revolution” in human relationships we need empathy.
If you want to improve the quality of your life and relationships, you always can sign up for professional help to improve your empathic ability. Believe me, it can change your entire life.
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Daniel Goleman Emotional Intelligence