Are you empathetic?

Have you ever had a really bad week? I mean really bad? Where everywhere you turn it’s another reminder that you don’t matter? At all? I’ve had a lot going on this week. Don’t know why.  I decided that what I need is a little empathy. That’s all. You know, when someone has a problem and you go, “Oh wow. That problem sucks. Don’t feel so bad. That guy who said that about you is a jerk. How can I help you feel better?” 

When I have a problem, I get, “Pshaw. You do not have a problem.” And then the infamous eye roll that everybody loves. 

Let me tell you,  it hurts. I feel betrayed when this happens. And hurt. My problems, no matter how small to you, are still problems. Maybe all I need is a hug. But what I don’t need is, “Pshaw.” 

So, when someone comes to you with a problem, try to make things better for them. Not worse. Also, as said, don’t offer the tired remark, “Well at least it’s not….you fill in the blank.” Or, “There’s plenty more people out there suffering more than you are.” These are examples of things that suck to say. So just don’t do it.

Here are some tips on being empathetic:

Listen with empathy. Empathy is your ability to see things from another person’s perspective. Listen and tune in to his/her feelings. Whatever the other person is feeling “makes sense” from his or her perspective. When you start to “get it”, you will know not only what this person is feeling – you will also understand why.

In Emotional Intelligence, etc., Steven Hein writes:

When we validate someone, we allow them to safely share their feelings and thoughts. We are reassuring them that it is okay to have the feelings they have. We are demonstrating that we will still accept them after they have shared their feelings. We let them know that we respect their perception of things at that moment. We help them feel heard, acknowledged, understood, and accepted.

  • Pity is, “Things are bad for you, you seem as though you need help.”
  • Sympathy is, “I’m sorry for your sadness, I wish to help.”
  • Emotional Contagion is, “You feel sad and now I feel sad.”
  • Empathy is, “I recognize how you feel.”
  • Apathy is, “I don’t care how you feel. “
  • Telepathy is, “I read your sadness without you expressing it to me in any normal way.”
  • Schadenfreude is “Things are bad for you and I feel good about that.”

Take the following test to see if you’re empathetic. You might be surprised. You might not be. I don’t know. Right now, I don’t know much of anything.



  1. justenjoyhim said,

    August 22, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    I’m sorry things have been so hard for you lately. *hugs*

    You know, the ““There’s plenty more people out there suffering more than you are” thing — I have to sometimes laugh because I had one friend who actually used to say, “at least we’re not in wheelchairs and there aren’t tanks in the streets,” and I’d think: “and this is supposed to make me feel better . . . HOW???” WHAT an example!

    Anyways, whatever it is, it DOES matter and it sucks that you don’t have anyone on your side. Now I want to go and take that test.

  2. kweenmama said,

    August 23, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    I took the test. I’m average. I don’t know if that should concern me or not. I know that Love and Logic (the parenting style I use) is big on empathy, so I try to use it in my parenting. Empathy is needed in ALL relationships though, marital, parental, friends, co-workers, etc. Thanks for the great reminder.

    Hope things start to look up for you…

  3. FoodyMom said,

    August 24, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Thanks Miss Judy. Coming from you, that means a lot. Thanks for the hug 🙂

  4. FoodyMom said,

    August 24, 2008 at 11:43 am

    Kweenmama, I’m average too. This post was for me just as much as it was for the nameless person who bugged me that day. I guess the point is, you can’t always be empathetic (we’re only human, right?), but you can always avoid dismissing someone or making them feel worse by comparing it to others who are worse off. That’s my plan anyway 🙂

  5. Elaine said,

    August 27, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    I’m coming in late, so I hope you’re feeling better, now; but I just had to say that I soooo know what you mean! That is pretty much how I was raised — “don’t complain, other people have it worse and YOU can help them make it better!” Not that that is always bad, but there needs to be some balance. Now as an adult I find myself being shocked when other people do care about my problems, no matter how small (like my post about the dog the other day). Go figure.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: