Value of Empathy in Daily Life
Value of Empathy in Daily Life
Have you ever felt disconnected from others? Having trouble seeing something from someone else’s point of view? Or do you sometimes find yourself in conflict with friends, family or co-workers? you’re not alone! Practicing empathy can be helpful – read on to learn why and how to practice empathy with yourself and others.
Research shows that practicing empathy can:
be beneficial to mental health
Improve self-esteem and your relationships with yourself and others
improve communication skills
reduce the risk of burnout
help prevent conflict
lead to better satisfaction at work and home
empathy vs sympathy
While the words empathy and sympathy are closely related, they should not be used interchangeably. Empathy is understanding someone’s feelings from their perspective, while empathy is understanding and feeling someone’s feelings from their perspective.
Ways to Practice Self-Compassion
Self-compassion is acknowledging that you are deserving of the understanding and compassion that you give to others.
Practice forgiveness by reminding yourself that you are human and make mistakes.
let go of self-judgment
Being critical of yourself can feel like focusing only on your negative qualities and allowing it to affect the way you view yourself. To let go of self-judgment, make an effort to think and speak positively about yourself.
positive self talk
If you wouldn’t say something to a friend or family member, avoid saying it to yourself. You can write down a list of positive affirmations (for example, “I believe”) and read aloud 3 affirmations from your list the next time you feel down.
don’t compare yourself to others
Realizing that we are all on our own journey, which cannot be compared or measured in relation to others.
Ways to Show Empathy for Others
be curious and be willing to listen
Let others feel comfortable sharing your story. This can involve something as simple as asking someone how they are or how they are feeling. Remember, we don’t always have answers – even something like “I feel your frustration and can understand where you’re coming from” can go a long way.
practice active listening
Practice active listening through welcoming language, body language and facial expressions. Next time you’re listening to someone, think about “send” to make sure you’re sending the right message:
S – smile
e – eye contact
N – no obstruction
D – Do not cross your arms or legs
Stop Judgments and Prejudices
When talking with people like this, try and let go of any preconceived notions or ideas about others who may be different from you.
be open to others’ viewpoints
To understand and feel the feelings of others, it is important to understand their point of view, even if we do not agree with them. It involves being open to seeing a situation from someone else’s point of view.
listen before you speak
Trying to formulate your thoughts and reactions when someone else is speaking can be distracting. Listen, process, take a moment to think, then respond appropriately.
Being empathetic to yourself and others can be challenging, and it takes practice. However, practicing empathy is an important skill to work on.
Engaging in self-compassion improves our inner confidence, and treating others in an empathetic manner improves social connections and relationships. You can start by asking yourself whether you practice empathy in your daily interactions. If not how can you start?
If you ever feel like you need help, please get in touch. Our mental health professionals can help.
check our location page to find a clinic near you or book online To schedule an appointment.
This blog originally appeared on Lifemark.ca and was written by Elise Kopman & Reem Al-Kas, second year OT students at the University of Western Ontario, and Chris Alexander, OT at Lifemark.