Increase Your Empathy through Self-Awareness

Has your heart grown colder over the past two years? Or have you always had trouble understanding and relating to other people’s feelings?

Empathy is the ability to understand how another person feels AND care about their feelings without judgment or pity .

Many people confuse empathy with sympathy. They are similar, but there’s a crucial difference.

When you feel sympathy , you feel sorry for that person’s problems, as in you’re sorry they’re having a problem . But you don’t necessarily understand how they feel about that problem . You risk reacting incorrectly or saying the wrong things because you don’t understand their feelings.

So how can we learn to be more empathetic?

The key to empathy is self-awareness. Being aware of our OWN feelings, motivations, fears, beliefs, weaknesses, etc. makes it easier to recognize those things in other people.

The overuse of social media and technology as opposed to actual interaction has made it harder for people to understand and care about each other.

Staring at a phone while someone is trying to talk to you makes it impossible to see their facial expressions and body language and less likely you’ll even hear everything they say or their tone of voice.

Humans need to be aware of those things to fully understand and have empathy for others.

But we are so out of touch with our own feelings , motivations , etc, that it’s very difficult to interpret other’s.

How do we build self-awareness?

  1. Make it a point to become more self-aware. Simply recognizing your lack of self-awareness is a huge step in the right direction!
  2. Do a little pre-test. Ask yourself how in touch with yourself you really are? Do you act or react ? Do you think or or are you on autopilot? Are you honest with yourself about your motivations , fears, weaknesses?
  3. Be kind to yourself if you realize you’ve become a bit robotic . It’s the world we live in!
  4. Look at the benefits of being more self-aware. You’ll be less likely to make dumb mistakes, more popular with people who value honesty, and you’ll develop empathy!
  5. Make friends with people who have these traits: self-awareness, empathy, kindness, forgiveness, generosity, honesty , and avoid spending too much time with those who have these traits: blaming, criticizing, sarcasm, hold grudges , bad tempered, attention-seeking, or self-hating.
  6. Love yourself like God loves you, flaws and all. Not like a false self-esteem, knowing that you were made by God and you have value simply for that . It’s really true that you can’t love others if you hate yourself!
  7. Listen to people closely when they talk . Ask yourself what emotions are they showing on their face and with their posture and hands.
  8. Watch videos on YouTube about facial expressions and body language. You can learn a lot quickly by watching videos .
  9. Don’t beat yourself up. Some of us are less empathetic by nature. But we can learn!
  10. Do self-work to get to your underlying fears and motivations. This could mean counseling or reading books or simply talking it out with a trusted friend. This can be difficult as we may not want to feel those feelings that we’ve suppressed as a defense mechanism for many years. But only when you’re FREE to feel your own pain, happiness, fear, vulnerability and love, and risk being hurt, can you truly become empathetic.

That last sentence bears repeating . Only when you’re FREE to feel your own pain, happiness, fear, vulnerability and love, and risk being hurt, can you truly become empathetic. If you won’t allow yourself to have those feelings, you are likely to turn away when others show them because you’ll feel uncomfortable.

A lack of empathy can be simply being too selfish to care, but it can also be forgetting that people have feelings. So I hope you’ll try these steps and become more aware of yourself and others.

2 comments

  1. “Marketing and politics manipulates the public through playing with their emotions does not mean that emotions are bad. It means that manipulation is bad.” Good perception and distinction!
    “It’s really true that you can’t love others if you hate yourself!” Unfortunately this is a misconception foisted on us by pop-psychology of the last century. Either the Bible is true (Ephesians 5:29 “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it,”) or it is in error. My suspicion is pop-psychologists are wrong. Even suicide is a self-loving action (“I” should not have to endure this.”)
    You have my sympathy, but not my empathy for this error! 😁
    ❤️&🙏, c.a.

    • I knew someone, most likely you, would call me out on that one. 😉 I think it’s a tricky one. You make good points, but I still think it’s true. Maybe I should word it differently, but I think it’s a basic statement that anyone can understand, whereas a more complicated theological explanation might be skipped over. The unregenerate human mind can’t always tell the difference between love and hate, which is why we get self-destruction, and suicide. What I meant is, if you hate yourself, meaning you consciously belittle, distrust, doubt, and berate yourself, you will probably do the same to other people consciously or subconsciously. If those thoughts are frequently running through your mind, even if that’s how you ‘love yourself’, other people won’t feel that as love. I’ve been around people who talk about suicide a lot and claim it’s their right. They also have very unreasonable standards for others and make very ugly comments about people in general. So it’s in that way that I am saying they ‘hate themselves’ and ‘hate others’. There many earthly reasons for this, but only one spiritual one, sin.
      What I should probably add is that unless someone is born again, they won’t be able to fully love anyone in the proper sense of the word. The unsaved person does not have the love of God in them. But I try to make some of my blogs more entry-level to an idea, a jumping off point, not the whole story. And I’m afraid I don’t always make the point well because I’m just not that good at making a point. :p So what was my point anyway? Be more aware of your inner self, the hidden parts, including this love/hate, so you can relate to others better. As you said, the Bible is a great place to find out about those things!
      PS We don’t have to agree on this. 🙂

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