1.The first step towards empathy is to accept the fact that life is difficult. Not for you only, or those whom you find it easy to empathize with, but to every single one of us. And this is true regardless of whether you find some people’s struggles unjustifiable, or whether you even consider them to be true struggles in the first place or not. A struggle is a struggle.
2.The simplest path to empathy is to put yourself through the same difficulties of others. And I don’t mean just trying what they tried, but to replicate all the initial conditions of the experiment that made them struggle. The reason for this is that we often have natural advantages or privileges we’re either not aware of or don’t acknowledge, and these are the same things that make the act of empathy so difficult sometimes. If you’re naturally predisposed to find being social pleasing, or math concepts easy to understand, to truly feel what the socially awkward feel or what the D student goes through, can be so foreign to you as to lead you to the conclusion that the socially awkward have to grow a thicker skin, D students should stop being lazy, and the depressed should just “shake it off.” So to empathize one has to, in some sense become the subject of its empathy. To understand someone is to become that someone. Even if only for a brief moment, before you go about being yourself again.
3.Empathy is one of the few areas of life in which the power of reciprocity shines its brightest. One may wonder how to be understood. How to be the target of more empathetic acts, and the easiest way to go about it is by building credit. By practicing more true acts of empathy yourself. Not to just claim you understand someone when you don’t, because more often than not people can sense it, as you do when someone does it to you. When you try to understand what someone is going through, you break from the mutual battle for attention and understanding, and you open the doors for the kind of connection we all crave. The kind of connection you can only experience when you become one another because again, true empathy is only possible when you stop being yourself and become the person you’re trying to empathize with.
4.A part of what makes a person wise is the ability to empathize with someone without having to go through what they went through. You always assume you’re not above making mistakes, and thus allow yourself to learn from a painful lesson without ever having to pay the price. You get to learn not because you’re a genius of sorts, but because deep down you know you can be as much of an idiot as everyone else. So you cherish every lesson regardless of the hand that gives it away.
It is all about knowledge and experience 😉
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