Menanteau Serfontein – 14 January 2021
- Empathy means to understand and experience the feelings/emotions of another (as if you are experiencing it yourself).
- Compassion means sympathetic, having pity/empathy and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.
Some people are naturally empathetic and compassionate and others appear to be lacking in these areas. The reasons for this are complex. The ideal is that everyone should at least have some degree of empathy and compassion. Often, people who lack empathy and compassion only learn the need for it when they themselves go through traumatic tragedy or difficulties during which they experience the need and value of an empathetic and compassionate person providing understanding and comfort.
A lack of empathy and compassion is often applicable when we are so self-absorbed that we don’t even notice that someone else is going through trying times and is in need of empathy and compassion. Sometimes we realise that empathy and compassion are required, but have no idea how to provide it.
Some people will always be better than others at being empathetic and compassionate, however it is important that those of us who lack this ability should recognise it and then develop a measure of empathy and compassion. This is important, because the willingness and ability to be empathetic and compassionate when it is needed, form an essential part of humanity, i.e. demonstrating that you truly understand (as if you were in that person’s shoes), and that you genuinely care.
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