Lately I’ve been thinking about empathy…
Someone at work shared the picture below with me and it got me thinking about what life would be like if I tried to put myself in other people’s shoes when interacting with them.
So often I think we can confuse a person’s behaviours with their personality. For example, if someone says something snappily at us or swears at us we might assume that they are a nasty person and write them off.
The thing is, I’m sure we’ve all done things that we regret and that we would hate for other people to base their judgements of us on. In fact, if I speak for myself, the things that reflect the worst on me are also the things I try to excuse to myself by saying I was having a bad day or I was tired or …..
Whilst in the end I choose to take responsibility for when I have wronged someone no matter what ‘excuses’ I may have. It is still nicer when the other person is generous with their understanding of what those ‘excuses’ may be and doesn’t base their whole opinion of me on that one interaction.
One thing I find helps me to offer that same sense of understanding back when I have been hurt or wronged by someone is to try to put myself in their shoes and try to think of reasons why that might have happened rather than just assuming the worst.
Another thing I find helps is to wish positive things for the other person rather than thinking along the lines of “That person did such and such, I wish a piano would fall on their head”. When I choose to think in that way it helps me feel better myself rather than holding on to the anger and hurt, but it also helps me to feel more positive about the person and to want to work towards reconciling with them.
What helps you have more empathy towards someone? How has having empathy in a situation changed things for you?