Y-Speak: Empathy: A genuine connection toward others

IN THIS fast-paced society, and with people becoming greatly endowed with having busy and overworked lifestyles, there seems to be no time left to be aware of other people’s situation, troubles, and feelings.

The nature of this modern generation we are in has created in us the sense that we live in this world primarily, only for us to thrive, to develop our minds, chase success, and find absolute happiness. It is at the very least that we get to think about other people’s situation.

All the while, a lot of people care so much about the big things in life. Kids of today care so much about what movies they are going to see in the cinema or what computer games they are going to play for the day. Students spend most of their time indulging themselves in social media sites where they can freely express everything they know, feel, hear, and see. Needless to say, they focus much on their studies, grades, who to date and how they are going to survive school their entire college life.

Adults care more about almost anything -- Family matters, career, bills, “adulting”, or even about when and where their summer/ travel destinations are going to be next.

All these reasons and more only concerns about how we run our own lives in a day to day basis which then, prevents us from seeing life in a bigger picture.

At some point in my life, it occurred to me the following questions like; have I ever got the time to check on some of my friends whom lately I haven’t been able to talk to? Have I given enough care to those people who asked for a little help about their struggles in life? Have I ever got the chance to extend help to someone who is in dire need of it?

It struck me, because I know I wasn’t completely open to thinking about what other people are going through. Life has been busy lately, and there are so many things that I need to attend to. Perhaps many of us feel the same way, right? We do not have the “luxury” of time to think of others because we are busy trying to run our lives as much as we can. This, however, hinder us from developing the value of empathy. It is the act of understanding and being sensitive to other’s feelings, becoming aware of their thoughts and experiences, and to share what they go through.

Famous for her speaking and writing about vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and other emotions that run in a person’s daily life, Dr. Brene Brown shares that it is important to cultivate the value of empathy. She is a research professor at the University of Houston, and has spent the first five years of her decade-long study focusing on shame and empathy and is now using that work to explore a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness (Ted.com). She says that:

“Empathy has no script. There is no right way or wrong way to do it. It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgment, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of ‘You’re not alone.’.” She defines empathy as “feeling with people”. That it’s a “vulnerable choice” since it needs a certain person to tap into something so personal in order to identify the struggle of another.

Empathy is a higher form of emotional development of sympathy. Say, you’re in no good relationship with your parents; you need your friends to show their sympathy and encouragement to you. You need them to understand what you are feeling, and you need their advice or help to make you think clearly and do the right things you ought to do. Above all, you need to see others empathize with your problems.

The importance of empathy is oftentimes underestimated. Teaching this value should be taught to children primarily at home by parents or at school by teachers so that they may be able to develop it within themselves and still bring it later in life. Every individual, including us, should be encouraged to become empathetic people -- to reach out to others in every way we can because life is not always just about us.

Through empathy, it allows us to create harmonious relationships, reduce stress, and enhance emotional awareness. It enables us to make value judgments and to become real about what or how we feel, thus, freeing ourselves from the negativity. The more willing we are to extend our circle of compassion, kindness, and understanding, the more we are able to empathize authentically. Shane Therese D. Caangay, UM AB English intern


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