Strengthening Our Empathy & Compassion
April is filled with diverse festivities. From a religious angle, April 2023 combined Ramadan, Passover and Easter observations. April is also the month of World Autism Awareness, Stress Awareness, Sexual Assault Awareness, World Health Day (April 7th) and Earth Day (April 22nd).
For me, April is the month of openness and acceptance of all. The month encourages us to look at different perspectives, different challenges, different aspirations and learn from the many viewpoints.
We do not need to share someone’s exact experience to celebrate their wins or feel their pain. It is not necessary for us to be in their shoes to relate to what they are going through. All what we need to do is be open to their individual journeys no matter how different our circumstances (or choices) might be. In other words, we need to be empathetic.
We can empathize with others by relating our own emotions with theirs. Human emotions are standard; we all know what happiness and sadness feel like. We have a common understanding of fear, anxiety, doubt, excitement, love …etc. We even have emojis to express our feelings worldwide.
When someone shares a happy moment with you, think of your happiest moments and relate to them on the emotional front. Similarly, when they share a doubt, think about the time you had those same challenges and try to relate to their feelings. Do not brush them off. Do not dismiss their emotions. Do not critic them. Remember, they are coming to you for connection, not necessarily for advice.
The next best thing to do following empathy is to show compassion. Compassion is love in action. Little actions or gestors to support the person in need. It could take a form of a symbolic gift to share their successes. An invitation to a coffee or a meal to distract them from their worries. Perhaps you could introduce them to someone who can help them. These actions not only show you paid attention, but that you truly care.
A person’s ability to empathize with others and translate their empathy into compassionate actions is a testament of their leadership skills. I hope you use this month to master the skill of empathy and find joy in connecting with those around you.