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.