You have an incredible power locked inside of you. It can literally soothe the fiercest anger and turn back those opposed to you. It’s the surprising power of empathy.
This week’s Inspire Me quote is from Plato:
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”
Empathy is a powerful asset. It can soothe the anger of others and influence their perceptions. Empathy can be developed, but to do so requires intentionality.
Everyone is judged by others. Whenever we feel judged, we are less likely to share our weaknesses, and less willing to seek help from others. This often happens in our church communities where a culture of expectation to appear “together” may be high. This is especially pronounced when a member of that community commits a grievous sin and the attention of the community turns toward judgment and damage control, rather than restoration.
Empathy is a recognition that everyone, ourselves include, are broken. We are all, as Plato said, fighting a hard battle. The key to increasing empathy is to development the mindset that others brokenness is no worse than our own.
When we feel threatened, perhaps by the behavior of another, the amygdala portion of our brain takes over and we are literally unable to access the prefrontal cortex where empathy can be expressed. Listening activates the prefrontal cortex and shuts down the amygdala response. So, to develop empathy, look for the critical triggers you have and find ways to explore what might be happening with the other person.
This episode’s Challenge Me:
The next time you find yourself thinking critically of another, ask yourself how you might better understand their situation.