As a human being, empathy is an extremely important emotion when it comes to being able to relate to other human beings in order to create and maintain meaningful relationships. This is mainly because using empathy improves your ability to be intimate with someone.
One of the main reasons empathy increases your capacity for intimacy is because empathy is the inherent ability to picture yourself in another person’s shoes. When you successfully do so, you feel the feelings they are feeling, and think similar thoughts that they may think in the situation. And thus, you’ll be able to feel closer to the person both mentally and physically because you will know how they think and feel which will make intimacy easier.
According to 2013 study by Beckes, Coan, and Hasselmo, knowing how and when to employ feelings of empathy improves an individual’s emotional quotient(EQ). Like IQ, a higher EQ dictates how successful a person’s relationships will be throughout the course of their lifetime.
Those people who suffer from a low EQ are likely to flit from relationship to relationship and never experience anything deeper, longer lasting, or more fulfilling. Using empathy with people we are close to is hard wired in the human brain (except for those who have an emotional disability) and this is because human nature is to think of the people close to us as part of ourselves.
Having empathy, besides just leading you to feel for those around you, also leads to compassion. Generally, you can’t have compassion for someone unless you know and feel how they are feeling.
And compassion keeps you centered as a person and helps you to think and help about others which will help transform you to an all-around better person. Humans also find themselves drawn to people whom are more compassionate, because they make them feel more comfortable.
Sometimes it can be hard to express and maintain empathy with another individual. It’s suggested that if this is something you struggle with, consider taking frequent moments to pause and become more self-aware. Check in with yourself, are you considering how the other person is feeling? If you aren’t, how can you change that? You can conduct this mental self-check at any point in your day, but you might find it easiest to check in while you are meditating.
If you’re still struggling with expressing empathy, start focusing more often when you speak with the individual you are trying to have empathy for. Look at their body language, listen to what they are saying, and then try to picture what you would do if you were in the exact same situation.
You may also find it helpful if you deliberately tell yourself that you are putting aside your own emotions and judgments when it comes to the individual. And make sure you maintain your mind as a blank slate while you are talking to them, rather than making rash assumptions based on what you may think.
At the end of each day, or perhaps an encounter you found especially difficult, take a moment to reflect on what happened and consider if there may have been a better outcome if you had reacted differently.
Whether you find expressing empathy easy, or difficult, it will most certainly affect your emotional relationships with others. Especially if you find it easy to express empathy, and perhaps find yourself in a relationship with someone who finds it difficult to.
This may make you feel like the intimacy is one sided, or there may be no intimacy at all. This is why it is critical, especially if you struggle with feeling empathetic, that you learn to better express empathy so that you can experience deeper and more intimate relationships.