Empathy: What is it?

The journey to better health is about more than physical wellbeing. A healthy outside starts from the inside, and the ability to empathize is an important part of building emotional wellness.

What is Empathy?

The word “empathy” is often used interchangeably with “sympathy” even though they are very different. Sympathy involves a feeling of concern for someone, and a wish to see them happier or better. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. 

Empathy is being right there with someone rather than simply observing them. This helps the other person feel truly heard and understood. An empathetic instinct often comes naturally to those in the healthcare industry and helps them make patients feel safe.

Why is Empathy Important?

Strengthening your ability to empathize has unlimited benefits both for individuals and society as a collective whole. Here are a few of the most important:

Improved Relationships

Empathy helps us feel more deeply connected to those around us and transforms conflict into collaboration. Your ability to understand friends and loved ones will help you feel closer to them. Not only that, but empathy begets empathy!  In other words, the more you practice empathy with those around you, the more they will do the same for you.

Increased Happiness

Empathy makes us feel good! Once you’re in the habit of choosing empathy, you will notice a significant shift in your mental state. You may feel more present, calm and open to the possibilities of life.  When your instinct becomes to understand instead of judge, feelings of anger and frustration are transformed into more positive emotions.

Better Self Care

Empathy isn’t just for others – consider being more empathetic with yourself. Rather than avoiding or judging your own emotions or actions, give yourself the love and understanding you would show to a friend, loved one, or stranger.

Whether you are a natural empath or just getting started, the only way to improve your ability to empathize is to practice!  Start by handling one situation today with empathy and grow from there. When is the last time you showed or were shown empathy? We want to hear about it in the comments!

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