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Continued from Previous……
Having achieved a degree of Self-Acceptance and Self-Esteem, how to sustain the spirit of Empathy; it is the topic for this blog and is also the last part of the Empathy series.
Please understand that Empathy is a ‘Mind Game’.
Sympathy is a ‘Heart Game’.
Empathy is distinctly different from Sympathy, which is when we feel pity about someone.
Sympathy motivates us to help the other person without knowing or understanding. The help may be one-time or limited offer and it may not change the condition of the recipient in the long run. Sympathy creates disparity; giver is higher than the receiver.
Empathy teaches us to understand and accept others. It builds long term relations which nourish and nurture both parties in many different ways. Empathy creates parity; puts both people on equal ground.
Continuous and conscious working on these areas is therefore critical in this pursuit.
Refusal to Accept Guilt – Our social system is seriously tilted towards inducing guilt in each other. This topic was discussed in an earlier blog separately, but it is so important that it should be discussed repeatedly.
Guilt lowers our self-esteem rapidly and significantly. Lowered Self-Esteem leads to Self-Doubt; leads to lowered Self-Confidence; leads to Defensive Behavior. When we are defensive, we lose our ability to see the reason; we see action and we react instinctively. We react out of context and out of proportion and later regret it. Regret induces Guilt, only this time it is self-induced. The impact is the same.
So, we get stuck in a vicious cycle. Guilt — poor Self-Esteem — poor Self-Confidence — poor Social-Interactivity — poor Behavior — Self-Guilt; It is full circle.
When we are in this cycle, we cannot practice Empathy. We must refrain from inducing guilt in others, and refuse to accept when others try to induce guilt in us.
Softness of Heart – What is meant is a general behavior based on softness and mercy and forgiveness. It arises out of the acceptance that we are all imperfect, faults-prone people. We have to give concession to others when they make a mistake. We do not know why someone behaved in a certain way. Maybe he/she was under intense pressure, or sick, or had a big failure recently, or just lost the job, or lost a loved one etc. If we wait a little and try to see beyond the obvious, we may see some entirely different thing. A soft heart helps to accept things which we may not accept otherwise.
Breadth of Vision – We have our small world and we are happy in it. We are so contented we do not want to see outside. Or maybe it is our insecurity that keeps us inside. We have a narrow set of values which are rather rigid and inflexible. We measure others with our very own yardstick and reject them in most cases. We are fearful of experimenting with new things for the same reason.
Our learning remains limited. Our parents tell us not to ask too many questions. If we insist, we are rude. Our teachers discourage us from asking questions beyond their many years old, yellowed notes. If we insist, we may have to pay with poor marks. Our maulvis forbid us to ask basic questions. If we insist, we are liable to be labeled as ‘fit for jahannum’. Allah calls upon all Muslims and all human beings to think and contemplate in His Creations so that our mind opens, and we are able to receive more, and our vision is broader. Breadth of Vision helps us to happily include others in our circle.
Adult Interactions – Please refer back to the concept of Transactional Analysis. We behave from Parent, Adult and Child modes; one at a time. Parent mode is authoritative, controlling and critical; Child mode is fun-seeking, irresponsible and jolly; and Adult mode is serious, responsible and understanding. An interaction is a transaction. If the transaction is between like modes; parent to parent, child to child, it is straight. If it is between parent and child, it is cross-transaction and leads to conflict. The rescue out of conflict is to get into Adult mode. Adult mode saves the day because of its maturity and sensitivity. Adult mode is necessary for Empathy. We shall be Empathetic only when we are in Adult mode. As soon as we get into Parent or Child mode, we lose the faculty of Empathy.
Dear All, Empathy is not needed by others. First of all, before anyone else, we need Empathy. We should learn Empathy, preach Empathy, and practice Empathy. And then hope and expect to receive Empathy.