In a perfect world, there would be peace and abundance for all people. Disease and climate problems from what we caused through technology and our need for things would be conquered to nurture happiness. Unfortunately, we live in the real world with each of us experiencing our own unique set of problems. How we navigate through those obstacles thrown at us affects us differently from making us stronger, weaker, more selfness to hardening our hearts. When we grow enough to discover the strength within and show empathy for others, it has a positive impact on you as well as others in ways that you never thought possible.
The Value of Empathy and Being There for Others
Seeing a situation others are experiencing almost like viewing it through their eyes is understanding the meaning of empathy. Imagining yourself in their shoes to go through the same thing instead of an impersonal viewpoint and showing selfless compassion for the position they’re in is being there by helping through a rough spot. Instead of just feeling sad or sorry for their circumstances, you take an active role over a passive one in coming to their rescue.
The value of expressing empathy for another can help make the right difference to improve another life. It also can trigger mirror neurons in the brain and help stimulate the release of feel good chemicals like serotin for your own well-being.
Some schools of thought believe that being too overly empathetic also can be detrimental. The reason is you may lose sight of the big picture when you heart takes the lead. For example, seeing homeless people sleeping on church steps or pushing a shopping cart with their only possessions breaks my heart, but it is not possible to donate to every one of them. Despite what the heart wants, total empathy is not always rational thinking when it comes to reality and our options.
Simple Ways of Being There
Empathy and being there for others doesn’t necessarily have to involve dire circumstances. Here are some simple ways to just be supportive when you see others trying to cope with whatever the situation may be.
How many times have you walked by others like they don’t exist? I dare you to just give them a passing smile if your eyes meet and see what happens. Seeing that you acknowledged their presence can cause them to smile back and fill you with joy. I’m not saying everyone will smile back, but it can improve your day and that person’s day for the better.
We all lead such busy lives that it can always manage to put a restraint on our free time. While this may be true, demonstrating empathy can be easy enough as helping your spouse with a chore that is usually his or hers. Calling family or friends, especially an old or sick relative person that may be living alone or visiting them more often can accomplish small miracles just remembering what they mean to you. Sharing happy memories and selfless concern for their welfare and state of mind can bring you closer and brighten moods.
Volunteering to a cause that you feel strongly about like feeding the poor, helping battered women and children or abused animals are just tips of the iceberg. When you truly see the problem, then become involved because it affects your heart and not because you will look good in your church, club or to your friends, then you’re revealing genuine empathy that can make a positive impact. Empathy just for social recognition is fake because it is selfish and premeditated for your own good.
Sometimes empathy can take as little as just offering a hug, companionship even if you sit silently watching a movie or a scenic view together, to holding a hand when someone is suffering can speak volumes and kindness when it is most needed. Bake a plate of cookies or sharing something from your garden is another small gesture of being there for others that need your support.
If you know someone that is going through a difficult time ask that person if there is something you can do to lend a hand. Don’t just ask because offering is the polite thing that is expected of you. Do it because you feel for that person out of empathy.
Making the world a better place involves commitment and persistence and on our part for real change to happen. Only when each of us stops criticizing or judging others for how they got in certain circumstances can you see past your own self. Merely picturing yourself in the same situation can you truly evolve as an individual to understand empathy.