I’ve had a few conversations lately with people who have shared with me that no one cares about the trials they’re going through. Some have health problems, very serious ones at that, yet even their own families don’t care. Or worse yet, their own family members accuse them of faking their illness for attention or for drugs. Others have suffered great loss, even including death of a loved one, & are reminded frequently that they need to get over it (as if that’s possible when losing someone you love?!). And still others have endured abuse, either at the hands of their parents or a spouse or both, yet people in their lives act as if it’s no big deal. They say heartless things like, “Shake it off & move on!” “What’s wrong with you? That happened a long time ago- you need to get over it.”
This kind of thing sickens me. It makes me lose what little faith I had left in humanity.
It also clearly shows the difference between empathy & apathy.
According to merriam-webster.com, empathy means, “the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions : the ability to share someone else’s feelings.” Also according to merriam-webster.com, apathy means, “the feeling of not having much emotion or interest : an apathetic state 1: lack of feeling or emotion.”
Empathy should be running rampant in society, especially considering how much suffering is happening constantly in the world, yet instead, apathy seems to be an epidemic instead. It’s truly sad.
There is such a thirst for compassion from people who are suffering, yet instead they are met with apathy & indifference. Or, possibly even worse yet, comparing their pain to another’s. Comments such as, “That’s not so bad. I had it much worse than you. You should be glad you didn’t go through what I did!” can be devastating due to their invalidation of one’s pain.
I want to encourage you to work on being more understanding & empathetic. There is such a great need for empathetic people, & empathy also seems to promote more empathy from others. (You will get empathy in return for giving it from most people.) You can’t help everyone in the world of course, but you never know how much you are truly helping another person. You may be like the first ripple in a lake- one tiny ripple creates more & more ripples that go out into larger & larger circles.
Displaying empathy will help other people, often more than they can put into words. Why not try it today? Empathy is also in the BIble- God commands His children to show empathy to one another. See the following Scriptures…
Matthew 7:12“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (ESV)
John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (ESV)
Ephesians 4:32ESV “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (ESV)
Romans 12:15 “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (ESV)
How do you develop empathy?
- The most important thing you can do is listen (without interrupting!) to those who are speaking to you.
- Watch the other person’s body language for cues on how they truly feel.
- Ask questions during the conversation to gather more information.
- Consider the other person’s life experiences that help to form their perspectives.
- Imagine how you would feel if you were in that exact same situation.