On Empathy

This is the first time I’ve participated in Chicago Now’s Blogapalooz-Hour.
Tonight, our group over at Chicago Now was asked to write about the following:

“Without trying to be humble, write about something you’re really good at.”

Empathy….I am an empathetic person.

I chose to participate in this challenge because I want to talk about empathy as well as the lack of it in our world. I’ve lived through a lot in my own personal life starting at a very young age. Because I have experienced a great deal, I have become an empathetic person.

My childhood taught me to try and feel, process and think about what others were experiencing at any given time. I took this trait and applied it to my life as I grew up;  this is the reason I became a teacher.

I try and empathize with family, friends and strangers.

I always try to live by these words: “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle”.

We have two (well, really three) areas in our lives when we live enlightened: sympathy, empathy and compassion. I’ll save compassion for another day.

Here are the differences between sympathy and empathy:

Sympathy – Feeling Sorry for Another Person

Sympathy is feeling sorry for another’s hurt or pain. There is emotional distance with sympathy.  You are not experiencing the pain for yourself, rather you are saying “Isn’t it sad that this person is having a bad time”.  Many of us have sympathy-and that’s a good thing.

Empathy – Walking in Another’s Shoes

Empathy is at a completely different level. It is the ability to experience for yourself some of the pain another person may be experiencing. It is an acknowledgement of a shared experience and a true recognition that we all feel grief, loss, pain and fear. To be empathetic, you don’t have to experience the same event as the person who is suffering, but you must have the ability to imagine and connect with how they must be feeling in their situation. Having empathy takes a lot of courage because it forces you to look down your own path and see how you may have felt the same way. You don’t have to take action on empathy.

Sometimes, actually quite often, the best thing an empathetic person can do is just listen.

I wish we had more empathy in our world. I think empathy (followed by compassion) are the most important traits a person can have. They make us human. They connect us.

It is very difficult not to be humble. I’m not one for talking about myself.

With that said, I leave you with this most beautiful video entitled: Empathy.

And the questions that go along with it: If you could stand in someone else’s shoes . . . hear what they hear. See what they see. Feel what they feel. Would you treat them differently?

Thank you for reading. What will you do different tomorrow?

CEO Toby Cosgrove, MD, shared this video, titled “Empathy,” with the Cleveland Clinic staff during his 2012 State of the Clinic address on Feb. 27, 2013.

Thank you for this opportunity Jimmy Greenfield and Chicago Now!


You can always reach out to me on Twitter for a good listen 🙂

And..Find me over at my education magazine, ED News Daily or on LinkedIn.


Filed under: Motivation

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