Empathy is Everything.

5/1/16

I was studying empathy last night. We've been really trying to teach empathy over here and we are far from perfect. I'm reading that empathy is taught and shown by action. Empathy is shown in the way a parent responds to a infants cry or a toddlers whine, knowing for a fact it means that the child needs something. It might be as small as eye contact, touch, or an embrace. Empathy is not choosing what is convenient or easiest, but revels in a heart to heart connection. Empathy is shown by caring for a three year old's needs and desires, even if it's the most ridiculous request. I'm not saying to respond Yes to everything, that's not what I mean, but rather hearing their needs and being able to talk through a solution creatively. To hear their hearts. 


The parallel is us as adults. Imagine hanging out with a friend who doesn't actually listen to you. She's on her phone or blows you off, or worse you are hurting and she looks at you and says, "Stop crying. Get over it." Or ignores you so you can self soothe. Maybe some people like that, I guess you never know. I've had adult experiences where a hurt was shared and the response was pure rejection. It hurt me so bad, especially coming from our closest friends and took a long time to heal from. It feels really good to be released of that hurt and able to talk about the topic of empathy. The friend I want surrounding me is one that would care enough to hear my hurts and respond with genuine care. There should always be time for genuinely caring for another human's heart. I want to be that type of friend. A friend who didn't expect perfection or controlled emotions ALL THE TIME and accepted me for my best or my worst moments. 


I feel strongly that our children need that too. They need us to show empathy to them every single day and their need for connection doesn't end when the sun goes down. There's this idea that kids won't remember their crying because they're so small... but then what is the age that they turn where parents DO start practicing actual empathy? Imagine a five year old went off to school and sat across the table from another child who was crying over a big or small hurt. The other child sat there and replied, "Stop crying. Self soothe. You're fine, friend. Just stop." No. We would want to teach that child to go over to the friend and see if they are okay. To tend to their needs or offer support, a tissue, encouragement or a hug. Empathy should be taught at that very first little cry they make fresh out in the world, by the way we care for their small voice as an infant, the way we listen to their needs through toddlerhood and through the way we treat others as grown adults. We want them to be empathetic humans to others as they grow up, but they have to see it and learn it from us first.

For a beautiful breakdown of how to me more empathetic, watch this video here by Brene Brown. I can't tell you how many times I have watched this and soaked in the knowledge. It's so beautiful. Empathy is the ability to place yourself in someone else’s shoes, understand and relate as best as you can to how that person feels. 

Even as early as infancy and it's never too late to begin integrating empathy into our worlds even as adults.

Empathy is everything. 

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