Thursday, May 9, 2013

Essential Empathy

In my sincere option, empathy is a very important attribute for each of us to possess. It doesn't matter if you’re a banker, construction worker, mechanic or nurse, empathy is what gives us the outward trait of being human to the rest of the population.

The topic of empathy was discussed today at work after the death of a patient in the hospital and all of us in the office easily agreed about the strength of the value of empathy in the human race, especially in the setting we work in. So many people have slowly lost their sense of empathy as they age and become jaded by their jobs or of the society that has been growing and changing around us. We watch the news and constantly see people shooting one another or setting off bombs in the streets. We shake our heads and think, “What a terrible shame. I’m so glad that’s not happening in my neighbourhood.” Or when you drive by a terrible accident on the highway, there is a personal sense of relief that you were not involved in that accident and you’re thankful for not ducking out of work 10 minutes early that day.

Instead of being content that these terrible things aren't happening to us, why aren't we thinking about the people they are directly affecting? Instead of being “glad it isn't me,” stop and think about the people that are being affected by these tragedies and put yourself in their place for just a minute. Just 60 seconds. Someone in this city today lost their husband/father/brother/uncle/friend and a family is mourning him at this very moment. That’s an important person that was lost.

The night was uncle died in a car accident, I drove through the scene of the accident not knowing that I was looking at his mangled truck. I clearly remember feeling sadness and thinking how someone’s family was about to be changed forever that night. Then less than 10 minutes later I learned that it was my family and it was my own life that I had been empathizing with.

Now as you read this, I bet that some of you are wondering why a person should willingly make themselves feel sad or understand the sadness of other people, when ignoring or brushing off the feeling is easier in the long run. I believe that doing this will give you a personal emotional relationship with the situation which in turn will make you think about the people you know and love, and help you to appreciate your own life that much more. Empathy is a way we can connect to the people around us, increase personal compassion and make us more understanding about numerous life experiences, especially the unexpected ones that are going to happen one day.

Yes it’s great that these things aren't happening to you, but when and if they ever do, isn't it nice knowing that other people are sharing the emotions with you and empathizing with you at that time? Sometimes just knowing that other people are thinking about you can create a great sense of support. Hopefully your sense of compassion will rub off on the people around you and build a stronger support system for everyone to live within.

1 comment:

  1. Amen sista.

    I'm sorry to hear about your patient. :-(