Why some people have more empathy (and how to increase yours).
The ability to empathize wasn’t handed out equally. While some people overflow with kindness, others don’t share their caring attitude. Discovering why can help you increase empathy and be a kinder person.
Empathic people mirror others
The part of the brain managing empathy also manages what it’s like to step into another’s shoes. If you imagine what it’s like to be another person and experience what they are, you’ll feel empathy for them. Most people don’t extend compassion past their immediate social circle. They experience indifference when it comes to strangers. They don’t identify with them because they know little about them.
If you want to have more empathy, consider how those outside your circuit might feel. Find out more about people and how situations and events influence them. You’ll understand them better, and feelings of empathy will stir.
People with empathy don’t dull their pain
If you dull your pain with paracetamol or alcohol, you become less sensitive to the pain of others. The area of your brain managing empathy needs to be switched on rather than clouded. Many pain-relieving drugs don’t just turn off discomfort; they also turn down kindness. Thus, steer clear of substances that reduce your brainpower.
You can increase empathy by listening
Listening well is a skill, enabling you to discover more about people. The more you know about others, the greater the chance of empathizing with them. People with little empathy tend to be bad listeners. Even when they seem to be paying attention, they don’t really listen.
To gain more empathy, work on your listening skills. Get used to pausing a moment after others speak, to make sure they’ve finished. Doing so also gives you time to absorb the information you hear. If you aren’t confident you understand, ask for clarification, or paraphrase, repeating back what you discern. People will tell you if you’ve misunderstood them.
Empathy is linked with imagination
When you’re empathic, you use your imagination to delve into the emotions of others. You enter their world using images, logic, and feelings. You also use your imagination in a similar way when you read or watch stories about other people’s lives. If you get engrossed in a sensitive movie, your empathy grows. Likewise, immerse yourself in quality fiction, and your ability to empathize will expand.
Empathy and mindfulness go together
Good empathizers are mindful. They are excellent at focusing on one task, movement, or thought at a time. As a result, they experience what’s happening with greater awareness than other people. You might have more empathy if you practice mindfulness, too. Fill your mind with whatever’s going on in the moment. Doing so means you don’t flit back and forth to different subjects or time frames. Stay in the moment, and you’ll be better equipped to resonate with the plight of others.
You can improve your ability to empathize with people by stepping into their shoes and refraining from dulling your brain. Increase your listening skills, and use your imagination to experience what it might be like to be someone else. Plus, mindfulness helps you focus and expands your awareness of feelings.