Every human being needs to get around satisfactory human relations, both in the family and other areas. Your emotional well-being will depend largely on the capacity you have to achieve this objective. In 328 BC, Aristotle said humans are social animals. Nowadays, more and more evidence is showing that humans are born to connect with one another.

Understanding the feelings of others apart from being in touch with our own feelings, capacities and limitations is the key for a satisfactory coexistence among human beings. Unfortunately, this understanding is not born spontaneously, but from what we call empathy. So what is empathy? Empathy is the effort to recognize and understand the feelings and attitudes of people, as well as the circumstances that affect them at any given time. We are certainly that, when we put ourselves in somebody else’s shoes we become together.
Gandhi it reminded us when he said "three-fourths of the miseries in the world would end if we learn to resolve misunderstandings by putting ourselves in the shoes of opponents and by trying to understand their point of view."

Wouldn’t we better if we understand the joys and concerns of our family and friends and we could provide more encouragement and help? In addition, research shows that when we can get out of our selves we can enjoy greater happiness and be healthier. John Cacioppo, Professor of Psychology at University of Chicago states:
"Our most important relationships and the people that we live daily are the ones with the highest incidence on our overall health.”

However, to be empathic with the people we love sometimes can be one of the most difficult tasks. The closer the relationship the easier it is to trigger the hot buttons in the other person. It takes a conscious decision and self-awareness to be empathic not just a desire.

So what is empathy all about?

o Empathy is about putting yourself in the other person’s shoes... If someone is telling me something that it’s painful for that person, but I have never been through it, I try to remember a similar situation that made me feel like that.

o Empathy is about listening... not just hearing. Hearing is simply the act of perceiving sound by the ear. Listening, however, is something you consciously choose to do. Listening requires concentration so that your brain processes meaning from words and sentences. Listening leads to learning, which translates into understanding when, refer to human relationships.

o Empathy is about showing attention. Try to have eye contact and open body language, even if the other person is not looking at you, still look in their direction. If is a person who is close enough to you, hold their hand, have open body language by directing your body towards the body of the other person.

o Do not offer answers or solutions unless you are asked for them. If there is something that interferes with empathy is rushing into quick solutions. Most people only need to be listened to and validated.

o Empathy is about practicing. Many people come to me and tell me that they really care about their spouse, mother, and friends but they can’t stand when they start complaining about the same things over and over. Empathy is a muscle and you will only develop it by practicing. It doesn’t mean that you have to do it all the time or listen to them without stopping. Decide to listen to them for a certain amount of time but remember that during that time is 100% about them. Be sure to stop politely when you have reached your limit.

I have come to believe that empathy is implicated and essential for the wellbeing of all of our relationships, so why don’t we start now? The practice of an empathic attitude will give you peace and harmony and of course a better and healthier self.

To learn more about the topic visit:

Why some people can’t be empathic? People who suffer from personality disorders such as narcissism, borderline or others have an innate inability to be empathic. For more information about the topic please visit http://personalitydisorders.suite101.com/article.cfm/empathy

Author's Bio: 

Isabel Kirk is a bilingual mental health counselor psychotherapist offering individual and group services in the Washington DC metropolitan area and distance counseling (online and phone).

For her complete profile, visit: Isabel Kirk