Today, the drastic decline in the levels of compassion that people exhibit is shocking. This trend indicates the possibility of us heading towards a society where people would prefer to be self-absorbed. The alarming decrease is due to the lack of empathy. Dr. Brene Brown, a leading Social psychologist has spoken extensively about the benefits of developing empathy as a virtue. The Brene Brown empathy concept elaborates on how compassion can help individuals lead a better and happier life, personally as well as professionally. This is very different from sympathy. Moving on, let us understand why are we coming across this sudden lack of empathy in the people around us.
2 Reasons for Lack of Empathy
While there is a possibility that the reason for the lack of empathy may differ from person to person, we have listed two extremely generic reasons.
People living alone is one of the major reasons why they tend to become selfish. This is not unusual considering they are used to taking care of their requirements only.
The concept of a nuclear family rather than living independently is becoming popular. But, when you start living alone, you get used to a pattern of life where everything revolves only around your needs. There is no company, therefore no inclination to learn the art of co-existing. Given this situation, people tend to become self-centered.
Lack of social or community involvement
There was a time when taking a break meant interacting with people around, spending time with friends and family. But now, this has changed completely.
People no longer believe in taking the effort to interact or build relationships. Instead, they prefer to rely on the internet for entertainment, when they have time to spare. This tends to nurture a selfish attitude which leads to the person developing a lack of empathy.
3 Ways Empathy Can Improve Your Life
Psychologists have often pointed out how human beings have an empathetic side that is equally strong as their selfish ones. However, as we move on in life, we tend to lose the connection with this empathetic side. The Brene Brown empathy concept talks about the importance of this connect with your empathetic side.
Hollywood celebrities have been known to utilize this virtue to deliver blockbusters and build glorious careers. An example of this success is the approach used by actor Daniel Day-Lewis for the movie My Left Foot. In the movie, he was supposed to portray the role of an Irish artist suffering from cerebral palsy. To ensure that he remains true to the character and his suffering, Daniel stayed on a wheelchair during the entire schedule of the shoot. He even insisted on being spoon-fed his meals and was wheeled around the set. Needless to say, his efforts to empathize with the sufferings of the character paid-off well and the movie became a critically acclaimed success.
This is just one example; you will come across many such scenarios around you as well. Moving on, let us understand three ways in which empathy can improve our life:
1. You see the other side of the story!
Many a time, we are blinded by our obsession to pursue a particular path. In such situations, even when people point out something wrong, we are unwilling to accept it.
The virtue of empathizing can help you step into the other person’s shoes to understand their views. This allows you to see things that you may have previously ignored. Simply put, it empowers you to get a different perspective and accordingly take better decisions in your personal and professional life.
2. You can channelize your emotions
Being empathetic towards others, gives you a chance to connect with your inner emotions. This in turn aids in your mental health and well-being.
The Brene Brown empathy concept talks at length about how one can connect with their inner self while discovering the power of empathy. It involves understanding what the other person feels. In the process, you can also feel the same and therefore comprehend their emotions in a better way. This, in turn, gives you a better understanding of the scenario and possible outcomes.
3. Stop being judgemental
Being judgemental can impact your personal and professional relationships in the wrong way. However, when you gradually develop the virtue of empathy, you will notice that you stop being judgemental.
A lot of times, we end up into arguments or altercations with people around us because we tend to judge the other person’s actions. Empathy teaches us to experience the same emotions/ feelings that the person on the other side is experiencing. Once you can do that, you stop judging their actions and instead focus on evaluating the circumstances that led them to act in a particular way.
On a parting note
Empathy is just like any other muscle in the body. The more you flex this muscle or practice the virtue of empathy, the stronger it will become. Therefore, adapting it as a virtue is a gradual process. You may not see any major differences in the beginning. However, in the long run, it is extremely helpful. Empathy will help you connect with people and communicate with them in a better way. The best part is that it is a contagious virtue! So if you are empathetic towards a person, he or she will learn to be the same with you, though it is likely to happen over some time.
A freelancer by profession, Kavita writes on a variety of topics, mental health being one of her favorites. Fond of traveling, socializing and meeting new people, most of her inspiration for writing comes from real-life scenarios as well as experiences. Her motto in life has always been to look for a reason to smile.