EMPATHY seems to be so much like sensitivity and understanding, yet it is a slightly different quality. When we are sensitive, we are aware of our own emotions, bodily sensations and how we are interpreting a given event or response from someone else. When we are sensitive we also recognize that someone else’s response may be different from our own. When we understand how we and the other person are thinking and feelings, we can more easily choose how we want to respond. But without empathy, it can become an intellectual process. Without empathy, we may feel bothered, annoyed or even indifferent to someone else’s needs and desires.
You may have a strong INCENTIVE, INTENTION, PRESENT MOMENT awareness, DRIVE, inner ARCHITECT, PATIENCE, ability to SURRENDER, COMMITMENT, TRUST, DISCERNMENT, PASSION, DESIRE, CREATIVITY, SENSUALITY, SEXUAL EXPRESSION, COMPASSION, and COMMUNICATION. You PRACTICE relationships skills, you balance TOGETHERNESS and AUTONOMY, your SENSITIVITY. UNDERSTANDING, RECEPTIVITY, FORGIVENESS and ACCEPTANCE may be apparent. But do you have EMPATHY for yourself in your own struggles and for another person whose struggles may be different from your own?
Today’s question is: How much EMPATHY are you able to feel for others when they express emotions that make you uncomfortable or that you feel are exaggerated and unnecessary?
- Are you able to actually imagine and visualize what it must feel like to be another person, to live with their mindset and values?
- Can you identify with another person, tune in and actually feel similar emotions, without losing your own sense of self?
- Can you freely respond with compassion, interest, and understanding when you do not live up to your own expectations or when someone you are close to disappoints, hurts or even betrays you?
Ask yourself NOW: How easily and readily can I share EMPATHY with myself and others when life throws a curve ball and I am not feeling strong and centered?
Research about what qualities are essential in a therapeutic relationship has indicated time and again that the most essential quality is EMPATHY. It is not the specific method or even the level of expertise and skill that can help to uplift and transform another person’s mindset. The one quality that helps a person to change is EMPATHY. Everybody wants to be loved and accepted and acknowledged for being exactly the way we are. Nobody wants to be expected to change to please another person. If we feel pressured and expected to change, the most natural thing to do is to adamantly resist. But when someone seems to know us at a really deep level, when someone seems to really “get who we are,” and when we feel understood, accepted, cared for and acknowledged, then we may be willing to let down our guard and make those small changes that are needed.
Relationships are built upon the complexity and interactions among all the different possible qualities, both positive and negative, that we can bring. Every quality is important, to some degree. It is really the balance among all the different possibilities that can lead to joy and happiness or sadness and emotional devastation.
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