What is empathy?

What Does empathy Mean

This word derives from the Greek term empátheia , is also called interpersonal intelligence (a term coined by Howard Gardner) and refers to the cognitive ability of one person to understand the emotional universe of another.

Before continuing, it will be necessary to separate two concepts that are sometimes confused, empathy and sympathy . While the first refers to a capacity, the second refers to an absolutely emotional process that enables us to perceive the moods of the other, but does not require us to understand them.

The Emotional Intelligence is the system in which all skills are included related to communication between the individual and the feelings (either themselves or others). It is made up of five skills: self-awareness (understanding the origin of feelings), emotional control (learning to channel emotions positively), motivation (finding reasons for improvement and having the ability to motivate others), relationship management (relating healthily, respecting others and making themselves respected). the empathyIt is the fifth skill, and it is the one that allows us to perceive the feelings of others and make them feel less alone. It is not a gift, we can all develop it if we wish, it is enough to open our minds and try to capture the life of the other from their perspective and not from our eyes.
For empathy to exist, it is necessary to put aside moral judgments and affective-rooted phenomena ( sympathy , antipathy ); in such a way that one can have an understanding but not compassionate attitude towards the other's circumstance. It consists of an objective and rational effort to carry out a process of intellectual understanding that allows us to understand the feelings of the other. For these reasons, it is one of the tools used by psychologists in their professional work to get closer to their patients.
In other words, empathy makes it possible to refer to the intellectual capacity of every human being to experience the way another individual feels. This ability can lead to a better understanding of your actions or your way of deciding certain issues. Empathy provides the ability to understand the requirements, attitudes, feelings, reactions and problems of others, placing oneself in their place and facing their emotional reactions in the most appropriate way.
It is interesting to note that the development of empathy requires a certain level of intelligence : therefore, those who are diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome , autism or suffer from some psychopathies lack this cognitive ability. People with empathy, experts emphasize, have the ability to listen to others and understand both their problems and each of their actions.

Develop empathy
When a person feels extremely distressed and when he sees another his mood changes completely just by being with him, he experiences the feeling of empathy . For this, it is not necessary that both people live the same experiences, but that one of them has the ability to capture the non-verbal messages, and also the verbal ones, that the other transmits and to do exactly what the other needs to feel understood. a unique shape.
A common problem that arises when two people try to communicate is that when one of them must express their feelings, they withdraw, avoid the topic or simply try to make a joke that leads the conversation to a space where they can feel safe. This occurs because that person experiences the presence of certain barriers that come between them, their feelings , and the other person.
The external elements that influence a person to not be able to express themselves, in addition to their internal barriers, have to do with the reaction that they expect the other to have. To achieve a good empathic relationship, it is essential that when we are in front of a person who expresses his feelings to us, we avoid the following attitudes:

* Downplaying what hurts or worries that person, looking for a way to ridicule the feelings he has and to impose reasons not to feel that way;

* Be predisposed to conversation with prejudices , analyzing what the other manifests based on our ideas, approaching him with a veil of beliefs and ideas;

* Use phraseslike "this way you won't achieve anything", "why do you always end up doing the same thing?", "etc";

* Have feelings of compassion for the other;

* Show yourself as a positive example , comparing the situation of the other with one experienced by us previously;

* Other similar attitudes.
With this way of acting, the only thing that is achieved is that the afflicted person moves away, that he hides in his shell and that he considers the possibility of not touching that subject again with that individual. For the two to develop a relationship of empathy, it is necessary for the interlocutor to forget himself and his principles and try to get closer to the other's world, as if he were trying to learn an unknown language.
Antes de terminar, querríamos aclarar la verdadera importancia que tiene en un individuo el poder hablar acerca de sus sentimientos, una herramienta imprescindible para vivir en sociedad. Aprender a poner en palabras lo que se siente es algo que debe aprenderse en la infancia y es fundamental para conseguir una buena comunicación emocional. Son los padres los que deben ayudar a sus hijos pequeños a descubrir y entender sus propios sentimientos y los de los demás. Aquellos que no puedan expresar cómo se sienten, difícilmente puedan desarrollar una verdadera empatía con alguien de su entorno, porque no podrán captar el mundo desde un punto de vista sensitivo.

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