“Those who have walked in the shoes of another person, regardless of which side of the adoption triangle they are on, are often the ones who best understand the depth of emotion, pain, suffering, and state of mind that others are experiencing. If you know someone associated with an adoption, then you know that empathy is one of the most important life skills you can learn because the adoption world is littered with individuals in desperate need of urgent care that could be comforted by a universal appeal for assistance, compassion and empathy.” Judith Land
Empathy is the ability to feel and share another person’s emotions, feelings, and state of mind for the purpose of offering comfort and reassurance. Empathy is a gift and a skill that requires the means, talent and ability to interpret and comprehend the soul of another human, that is at the core of their emotional well-being, feeling and thought. Empathy is much more than a simple offering of kindness, sympathy, prayer, or pity; it is the ability to sense the feelings and perspectives of others and assuming an active interest in their concerns.
Empathy is the link between self and others and how we as individuals understand what others are experiencing. The ability to imagine oneself as another person and the capacity to place oneself in their position is a sophisticated imaginative process that is cognitive, emotional, or romantic in nature. Having the ability to understand what another person is experiencing from their frame of reference and the ability to place oneself in their position can be achieved with training to various degrees of intensity and accuracy but the basic capacity to cry when we see someone else cry or be happy when they are happy is based on primitive intuitive sympathetic responses when we recognize emotions and feelings in other beings that are innate and achieved unconsciously. Sentiments that trigger our emotions and feelings of tenderness, sadness, and reminiscence aren’t always about what we are feeling today. When one’s state of mind, intuitive feelings, and moral sense are overtly exaggerated or self-indulgent they may be the nostalgic aftereffects of post traumatic stress resulting from the events and circumstances of long ago. Understanding our own feelings and emotions is essential for a healthy life and the foundation of empathizing with others. Empathy is about listening with one’s eyes, as well as our ears, instincts and heart. Nonverbal communication is often the basis for understanding the feelings, experiences and thoughts of others that aren’t fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.
Persons with a high degree of empathy have the capacity to recognize their own, and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior. Research has suggested that individuals who can empathize tend to have positive mental health, job performance, and leadership skills, enjoy better relationships with others and greater well-being through life.