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MAC Counselling Blog

The Power of Empathy

Monday, August 08, 2016

Empathy is…

Seeing with the eyes of another

Listening with the ears of another

and feeling with the heart of another

Empathy is a core skill of any counsellor as a result I've thought a lot about empathy. Who has it, who doesn't? Are you born with it? Can it be taught (studies show it can)?  I think a conversation about empathy is a good one for all of us to have — in our homes, in our workplaces and, most importantly, with ourselves.

Empathy is different from sympathy. Different from tolerance or even compassion. Empathy is the ability to share someone else's feelings. Feeling that you can understand another person's experiences. In short: To walk in their shoes.

My own desire is to help build a more caring, compassionate, collaborative world. But to get there we first need to talk about, and exhibit, empathy. 

At the moment I have empathy for all those who are terrified of the change they see happening in our world, which is unfolding in front of their very eyes. The underlying emotion people are experiencing is fear and powerlessness: Those two things make us all do and say things we might some day come to regret.  Change is hard, change is scary, but one thing that is certain, change will happen — you can't stop it so you need to learn how to embrace it 

So the question is: How do we embrace change? How do we have empathy for those around us who are frightened, confused and perhaps angry? I suggest we start by thinking about the empathy in ourselves and once we find that, we can share it and pass it on.


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