Empathy Is Our Super Power

When my now husband and I started dating, he told me one of the things he loved about me was my empathy and the one thing he couldn’t stand was my compassion. I hear you, Brother, it’s no picnic being an empath. Do you think I like walking into a room with my feelers out?

I look for the person in the corner or the one who is trying too hard. Empaths love deep, intimate conversations. We can also entertain you. That’s what we do, we ensure everyone else is ok, often at the expense of ourselves.

Merriam-Webster defines empathy is “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.” Empathy means understanding someone else’s perspective. Empathy is the most important skill we have. Why? Empathy allows us to connect and promotes helping behaviors through compassion. Also, empathizing with others helps us to manage our own feelings. Dr. Z, how do we develop empathy? Simple: share your story and invite others to share and LISTEN! This is what creates empathy which prevents othering.

Imagine a world where we listen and hear each other’s stories. Imagine a world where instead of judging we are compassionate.

Dr. Z, how do I create more empathy in my life, in the world? Easy…okay, it may not be easy but it’s doable and worth it. There are six habits that will create empathy. First, talk to new people and get curious. Second, listen hard. Third, be vulnerable. Fourth, challenge yourself. Fifth, challenge prejudices and discover commonalities. Sixth, act and offer help to inspire mass action and social change. Yes, there are “steps” to creating empathy, but part of this process is leading with your heart.

Also, as my 19-year-old son reminds us, “Don’t surround yourself with people who have the same opinions as yourself.” Instead, become courageous and vulnerable with people who are different than you. Imagine what a kickass, lovely world we could create. Let’s do it.