What Is Psychic Empathy?
If you’ve ever listened to a friend share their heartache with you and you sat and cried with them, you’ve experienced empathy first hand. Empathy is the ability to experientially feel what another person is feeling. It’s really considering what they are going through and feeling it from their perspective. It’s you stepping into their shoes and feeling the same emotions surging through their body.
Empathy is different than sympathy. When you sympathize with someone, you may genuinely extend concern and compassion for their situation, but you don’t necessarily feel what they’re going through. This can be because you either haven’t gone through such a thing yourself (perhaps a divorce) or you feel it would be too painful to put yourself in their shoes (death of a child).
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Showing empathy can be challenging
If you’re empathic, it can challenge you at times because it takes time and energy to share another person’s pain. You’re not just saying, “Oh, wow. Sorry to hear that”. You’re going beyond condolences and sitting with them- in their emotional space- and joining them in their emotional state.
For example, let’s say your co-worker just got laid off. She sits down and starts crying and talking about how scared she is for her future. She’s a single mom with no help from the dad. She’s genuinely heart broken and fearful. Now you could simply extend sympathy to her and keep it moving. You could say, “Wow, Susan. I’m really sorry for you. I will pray for you.”
Or you can take the time and energy to show empathy for Susan. You can go and sit with her. Put your arm around her and genuinely listen to her as she shares. You’re not trying to fix her. You’re simply being with her in her emotional space, putting yourself in her shoes and feeling what it is she may be feeling. There’s a deeper, more intimate connection going on here and you get to show compassion, which is a trait the world could use more.
Why should we show empathy?
Showing empathy, even when it’s not convenient, helps the world become a brighter place. As you empathize with those who are struggling, you connect with them. They don’t feel so alone and this is compassion working at its finest. This allows the emotional person to feel unjudged and unconditionally loved by you- and this can help begin the healing journey for that person.
Is feeling empathy natural for everyone?
Not everyone feels empathy. Those that are self-absorbed, narcissistic, etc. tend to shy away from extending empathy or compassion. Still, there are highly sensitive people (HSP) that are super sensitive to other people’s feelings and experience empathy quite often. In fact, about 20 percent of the population is highly empathic by nature.
Can you grow and hone your empathy skills? Absolutely. Why would you want to? Because it helps you to become a more emotionally intelligent, mature human being. As you know, as humans we are social beings. We crave social interaction and most of all, to be accepted and loved unconditionally. When you take the time and energy to show empathy toward others, you play a part in your continued evolution and help deepen relationships. You help reduce judgment and feelings of aloneness. You also start to feel better about yourself, as being there for others just feels good.
How to boost empathy
- Gauge your empathy level. The first thing to do in order to boost empathy is to become more aware of the need. Gauge where you are on the empathic scale. When someone is struggling with a problem or emotion, do you roll your eyes and look for a quick escape so you don’t have to deal with it? Or do you take a moment to put yourself in his or her shoes? Do you lend an ear and offer support? Honestly evaluate how you handle such people in your life.
- Be fully present. When you are with the other person, be fully present and really listen to their plight. Don’t let your mind wander or try to conjure up amazing things to say to try to fix the problem. Just listen.
- Make eye contact. You’d be surprised how many people don’t make eye contact. Do your best to look people in the eye when speaking with them.
- Mirroring. Mirror back what the person is saying or feeling. Let them know you hear them.
- Allow yourself to feel what they are feeling. Don’t make it all about you, but put yourself in their shoes and allow yourself to feel what they may be feeling. By doing so, you will be able to empathize with them.
Taking time to show empathy is a wonderful act of service. Make a commitment to being more fully present with others and lending a solid listening ear. As you empathize with those who need, you’re not only helping them, but you’re also helping yourself to evolve and grow as well.