Empathy can be hard to offer to people sometimes.
This is particularly true if they’re strangers or if we feel that they’re at fault, or have inconvenienced us in some way. Empathy can be s easier to have for those we are close to or can relate to.
Empathy is a valuable resource that can have a limit.
To some degree, that’s fine. We can’t care deeply about everyone on Earth or pretend to know their struggles and successes, our minds only have so much room for all of the complexities we are faced with. That said, sometimes, it can be a good idea to help ourselves understand how empathy functions, why it’s needed more than ever, and how we can train it like a muscle to make ourselves better and more integrated people.
That’s a good amount of work we’ve cut out for ourselves there, so lets also define one other important consideration – having empathy helps us heal ourselves and treat ourselves with more kindness. That might not seem logical at first, and so in this post, we’ll discuss how and why you can expect this to happen, and how to curate empathy for others even when it’s tough to:
Put Yourself In Their Shoes
Putting yourself in the shoes of other people isn’t always easy, but it can be tremendously instructive, through and through. This effort may involve taking some time to imagine what another person is going through, how they might have become that way, or if a certain issue you’ve noticed might have had extraneous factors. For instance, if a colleague at work is somewhat short with you, a little out of character, instead of losing respect for that person we can just see they’re having a bad day. Then, when you have a bad day, you can feel a little less guilty about not being your most sociable self. Little efforts like this make a difference.
Empathy Helps You Understand No One Is Perfect
Empathy truly helps you understand that no one is perfect, and it would be very boring if anyone was. We often understand this intellectually, but when it comes to seeing someone’s flaws in practice, it’s rare that the courtesy extends. It’s a good idea to cut a little bit of a slack because this allows you to do the same with yourself. Just having that breathing room can help you feel sincerely helpful, instead of insincerely forced to be artificially and perhaps even condescendingly pleasant. The more we can admit this to ourselves, the less we can hold each other to task when it’s really not needed.
No One Is A Robot
Absolutely no one is a robot, and of course, that’s a good thing. It’s hard to keep that in mind, sometimes. For this reason, it can be that visiting a therapist to help talk through your issues and vent problems you may be having, as well as putting strategies in place (like cognitive behavioral therapy) to overcome certain problems you may be struggling with, can be tremendously important. Knowing no one is a robot can inspire you to seek out this potential, instead of denigrating yourself for requiring and desiring it.
With this advice, we hope you can curate empathy, not only to help others but to help yourself, too.