Some find it hard to empathize with others but the capacity for empathy is innate.
The contemporary world is highly competitive, which might push you to forget the value of empathy. But this can be easily changed with empathy training.
Don’t worry – you don’t need to go through a series of intensive personal growth sessions to learn how to be more empathetic.
In fact, the journey towards greater empathy begins by taking a closer look at yourself.
How Do You Develop Empathy?
The first step in developing greater empathy is to overcome what prevents you from reaching out to others.
Your own thoughts and emotions might be what’s holding you back. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own dilemmas that we have no room for others.
But there is an easy way to pull your mind away from these inhibitions.
Empathy, like many cognitive skills, is just that: a skill. And skills can be developed and strengthened with the right tools.
Can you learn to have empathy?
Some people have a higher genetic predisposition to empathy. However, most people learn empathy during childhood simply by observing others.
Empathy follows a straightforward mechanism. A child receives empathy and understands its emotional benefits. Or, a child might show empathy and get praised for it, which reinforces the empathetic response.
But can adults learn to have empathy?
A recent analysis shows that adults can actually learn how to be more empathetic through empathy training. With training, adults learn the benefits of empathy through concrete examples based on how they might practice empathy in real-life situations.
After some time, the empathetic response becomes like second nature.
What Is Empathy?
Empathy is being able to recognize, understand, and act based on other people’s emotions. In other words, it involves putting yourself in another person’s shoes and trying to help the best way you can.
In practice, it means connecting to the emotions of others and providing support and understanding. But empathy is not a one-way street. You also need to be able to share your feelings to foster a more intimate, genuine connection with those around you.
Gratitude is a good example of empathy in action, especially when another person has exposed his or her vulnerabilities. Opening up and showing weaknesses means a person trusts you and you need to honor that trust with care.
What are the 3 types of empathy?
Psychologists differentiate 3 types of empathy: cognitive, emotional, and compassionate empathy.
Perspective-taking, or cognitive empathy, refers to putting yourself in the shoes of others. However, cognitive empathy doesn’t include feeling what other people are feeling. It’s more about understanding their cognitive position.
Emotional empathy, on the other hand, is feeling the emotions of others. You share their distress, anxiety, or joy.
The shared feeling may trigger a need to take action and this is where compassionate empathy comes in. It drives you to help the needy without wanting anything in return.
The final word
You cannot have an extraordinary life without having an extraordinary emotional life.—Jon Butcher, trainer of Mindvalley’s Lifebook Quest
If you struggle to rein in your emotions, empathy training is a good place to start. It will help you build more meaningful and long-lasting connections with those around you.