Empathy is the ability to emotionally understand what other people feel, to bleed when a near and dear one is injured see things from their point of view, and imagine yourself in their place. Essentially, it is putting yourself in someone else’s position, wearing someone else’s shoes and walking that extra mile just to realise where the shoe pinches and feeling the hurt what they must be going through.
Empathy and compassion are synonyms in many dictionaries and used interchangeably by many, but they have different characteristics. We all have our wounds – some hidden deeply and some more recent and clearly visible. Some sure to leave behind a scar etched on the heart. But we are each in the process of healing too. Divine blessing is taking care of the wound, so we should trust Him and leave everything to Him. When we take steps to heal ourselves, we grow. When we help others heal, we both grow.
It’s a beautiful thing and meant to be part of every journey. When we live only for our own we don’t do much when we live for others we leave behind a world which is slightly better than the former one.
Practising empathy also helps you to relate more to others. When we are in tune with our own emotions, we can relate to other people’s emotional reality more readily and effectively. This is especially significant in settings where there is diversity among individuals. The single most important relationship we all need is empathy — the ability to understand and share the feelings of the person in front of you or at the back of your mind. Empathy is the heart of any relationship, irrespective of age and gender. When you don’t empathize with your relationship, it sends the message that you don’t respect them or have any concern for them. The relationship becomes meaningless and a tired one.
Empathy is vital for the running of a civilized society. Empathy is important for developing social relationships and being able to live with others. We are living in such an era when crores of rupees are being spent in search of life and water in other planets, whereas our own planet is struggling for the same. This is the real difference between empathy and sympathy. When we feed a hungry stomach because we have an extra share of food at home, we are being sympathetic but when we are sharing our food with a hungry stomach because we feel the pangs of hunger we are being empathetic.
The world today needs a pair of shoulders to cry on, a heart to understand the pain of someone and of course a mind to counsel you to move forward and lend a few sweet words to ease the struggle one is dealing with. Let us come forward to ease someone’s pain and leave a world for our forthcoming generations.
Dr ABHAYA RANJAN PATTANAYAKHUMAN