Because of the uniquely profound quality of empathy, we can put ourselves in other people’s shoes which can serve as a strong source of motivation to want to help others. Because of empathy we may not need to experience something ourselves in order to be able to try to understand how something feels. Sometimes just having the desire to try to understand someone’s pain can be enough to be with that person and support them through their pain or suffering. Empathy therefore in many ways is an essential and beautiful human quality.
Nevertheless, empathy isn’t always easy and it doesn’t always come naturally in every situation. Interestingly, every now and then every person eventually has an unexpected occurrence in their life that can serve as a real “empathy moment”. You know you are having an empathy moment when you find yourself thinking “So this is how _____ (name) felt when he/she was going through _____ (difficult experience)”.
When someone who steals, cons and rips others off ends up getting ripped off by someone even more clever
When the cheater one day gets cheated on
When someone grows up the big shot who looks down on and bullies others one day ends up on the other end of being bullied and looked down upon as an adult
When the person who lets everyone know that they have all the answers ends up completely lost, confused and alone, not knowing where to turn
When the person who says “just get over it” experiences something that he or she just can’t get over
Empathy moments group discussion:
Think about your own “empathy moments” when something happened in your life that really opened your eyes to how others in that situation feel.
Empathy is such a helpful human quality that can really build bridges between people in different situations with different backgrounds and experiences. Think about and discuss the positive benefits that can come about when there is empathy and understanding among people.
How can you as an individual increase in your ability to try to understand and empathize with others?