Empathy is an important human trait because it is one that makes us more human. The greatest illusion in all humanity is the idea of separation. Due to what we are taught, we come to believe that there is something about us that makes us different from other human beings. Worse, in some cases we are taught that those differences make us better than or worse than others. According to whether you are better than or worse than someone else are certain behaviors and mindsets, ways that you should act. One piece at a time, you disconnect yourself from the very thing that connects you to everyone: your humanity.
No matter our race, socioeconomic class, mental health diagnosis, substance of choice, past, future, language, or job title- we are all human beings. As a result, we all experience emotion. Most humans will experience pain, suffering, and joy within their lifetimes. Empathy is our way to show one another understanding and share in their emotional experiences with them. Few feelings are worse than thinking one is completely isolated in their experience. Loneliness has been scientifically proven to worsen degenerative disease like dementia and cancer.
Some people with clinical psychiatric diagnoses such as psychopathy or antisocial personality disorder, also known as sociopathy, are constitutionally incapable of feeling empathy for others. For the rest of us, however, feeling and practicing empathy is entirely possible. Though it may not be first nature, through a little bit of work, it can become an entire way of life.
Be Of Service
The more we are involved with other people, the more we can come to understand them. Helping others is a way to connect with another person’s life, life story, and experience. Volunteering to work with other people, children, or the elderly is a way to be of service. Empathy can also be practiced through service in daily situations. Watch for opportunities to help. You might find you recognize more people needing help then you realized. Everyone needs help.
Listen More Deeply
How many times have we listened to a friend on the phone while thinking about something completely different? We might have more empathy toward their situation if we really paid attention and realized we can relate to what they are saying. The truth is, people are telling us exactly what is going on all the time. Often, we’re too self-focused to pay attention. Actively listen to what someone is saying to you when they speak. Ask them for clarity if you aren’t sure what they are trying to communicate.
Avalon By The Sea instills spiritual values like empathy and compassion into the core components of our treatment programs for substance use disorders and mental health disorders. For a confidential assessment and more information on our treatment programs, call 1 (888) 958-7511.