Let’s start first by defining empathy:
Empathy is, at its simplest, awareness of the feelings and emotions of other people. It means to understand what another person is feeling. To put yourself in someone else’s situation and feel the person’s pain, the person’s suffering. It means emotionally moved by the suffering of others. It is a key element of Emotional Intelligence, the connection between self and others because it is how we as individuals understand what others are experiencing as if we were feeling it ourselves. We put our feet in someone else’s shoes and feel the person’s suffering.
It is the capacity to tune in to the experience with a warm, caring, and genuine interest. Sympathy, empathy, and compassion allow us to understand the felt- experience. Empathy is the ability to connect with other’s feelings at the moment and understand deeply what are they going through when they are feeling overwhelmed. Then by practicing compassion regularly, we can relieve the suffering of those around us.
There are different types of empathy, cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, and compassionate empathy. Cognitive empathy refers to how well an individual can perceive and understand the emotions of another person.
With emotional empathy, you feel the pain and suffering of the other person and will be involved in their stories. Therefore you use your energy which will drain you gradually then you won’t be able to help others and hold space for them when it is needed.
You actually feel another person’s pain with attachment, you become emotionally involved in the situation. This is the type of response that can lead to caregiver burnout, which we want to prevent and be aware of it in order to replace it with compassionate empathy.
With compassionate empathy, you feel concerned about another person’s suffering, without being attached to its story, like hearing and observing with awareness and a desire to help the person in need. You will hold space for everyone to open up and release the mental and emotional pains he or she is experiencing at the moment.
In order to be able to have compassionate empathy instead of emotional empathy, you need to learn mindfulness and practice it regularly to build up the capacity to hold space. To feel concerned about a person suffering without attachment. When you observe and understand your own feelings and emotions every single day, for ten to twenty minutes, without judgment & biases, with kindness, compassion & curiosity, you will be able to listen deeply and understand other people’s feelings without judgment and attachment.
Finally, I strongly suggest all service professionals to practice mindfulness regularly and learn how to build up the space they need for themselves to express their compassion without being attached to one’s story and prevent burnout and compassionate fatigue.
Love & Blessing,