Empathy is not a weakness.
Empathy is not simply about understanding how someone else feels. It is about understanding that, like you, other people have feelings, too.
We all have desires, we all have wants, we all have needs. Some are similar, such as food, shelter, clothing, companionship. Yet even with the similarities, they still will vary from person to person. The foods and quantities of food vary, the desired shelter differs, we like different clothing based on our individual tastes, and we don’t all want the same companions.
Empathy is not just about feelings. But it is very important to acknowledge that everybody feels. Even the most robotic people we know still have feelings. They may lock them away, or let logic be more dominant, but they are still there, still present.
The thing about empathy is that we are frequently approaching it from a place of lack, rather than abundance.
What does that mean? Let’s look at empathy in regards to refugees. Many people see them as parasites, people who will come in and take and take, and so they push to keep them away. They believe there is not enough, whether that’s space, food, shelter or jobs, and so they want to keep them out and keep them away.
But if you see empathy as a part of abundance, then we can see in ourselves how awful it would be to lose our homes, lose our way of life, maybe even our loved ones, and be forced to flee. We see these people not as parasites, but as people much like us, who just want to come and have a new place to call home, a safe place to live and work and just be. We see that our place, our nation for example, has more than enough space, food, shelter and jobs, and we want to help them and bring them here, as we would want them to do for us were the roles reversed.
That is really what empathy is about. How do I want to be treated? If you see a world of lack, then there is an insufficiency of any number of things, tangible or otherwise. But if you see a world of abundance, then there is more than enough to go around, and endless possibility.
I rarely get political when Pathwalking, but in regards to this topic I feel it is unavoidable. In addition to the divide-and-conquer attitude of those in power in the United States currently, there is a major lack of empathy. Repealing the Affordable Care Act will take away the ability for many people to maintain their health, and the reason given for this action is lack of some sort or other. Where is the empathy for those who are sick, broke, struggling to be well? Everybody wants to find love and companionship, so how do legal actions that work against LGBTQ people allow for that? Immigrants? Refugees? The poor? Anybody struggling to make ends meet? What happened to caring about people?
Even worse, it has become increasingly acceptable to be rude and impolite. Does anyone like it when people are rude to them, or treat them inhospitably? Since I am pretty certain the answer is no, then how come people are either tolerating or themselves becoming increasingly rude, disrespectful, and argumentative?
It is not a weakness to be empathetic to other people, because that is simply acknowledging that we do not want to be treated that way, either. Empathy is sensing how we want to be made to feel, how we want to be addressed, and giving just what we want to get.
Walking your own path is no reason to lack in empathy for others. My path is not your path, your path is not his path or her path, and our paths are not their paths. If, however, we are approaching the paths we are on from a place of lack, then we are in danger of lacking empathy for the paths of others, because we could see that there is not enough for all of us.
But if we approach the paths we are on from a place of abundance, we will have empathy for the paths of others, because we can see that there is enough for us all. What we seek upon our paths differs, and in an abundant universe there is more than enough for each and every one of us.
We all need to see that empathy is a strength. By being able to put ourselves into other people’s shoes, we can see what makes each and every one of us great. We can see endless possibilities, and we can work together to remove limitations, lack and hopelessness.
With a bit more empathy, we can work together to build a much better world, and we can overcome the fear, the hate, and the intense negativity of those who prefer us divided so they can conquer. The golden rule is not wrong, it is the truth of empathy – Do unto others as you would have done unto you.
Empathy is a strength. Being empathetic towards our fellow human beings makes us better people, better citizens, and most of all better to ourselves. Empathy empowers.
How do you want people to think of and treat you?
This is the two-hundred seventy-first entry in my series. These weekly posts are ideas and my personal experiences in walking along the path of life. I share this journey as part of my desire to make a difference in this world along the way.
Thank you for joining me. Feel free to re-blog and share.
The first year of Pathwalking, including some expanded ideas, is available here.
If you enjoy Pathwalking, you may also want to read my Five Easy Steps to Change the World for the Better.