3 Ways to Strengthen Empathy

Trent Rhodes Character Education, Education Leave a Comment

KISS-ing (Keeping It Simple Stupid) with this one, as each subject can be written about to much greater depth. Empathy will become more popular, more sensationalized in the coming months as an antidote for the increasing narcissism awareness. Books like The Narcissism Epidemic and documentaries like The Social Dilemma are bringing to the public consciousness an understanding how self-centered behavior is becoming normalized. Acceptable. I daresay admired. The selfie was just the start.

Unbeknownst to the mainstream, this narcissism is deeper than mere selfishness; it’s an energy, a personality element that tempts those who live with low self-esteem to over exaggerate one’s worth and project it outwards to an audience that doesn’t know them.

The energy creates attraction because it’s able to attract followers; the more adoration for look-at-me energy, the stronger this attraction becomes to continue. It feeds the ego like a delicious meal. The ultimate spiritual-dopamine high.

Actively Listen for Empathy vs. Just Hearing

Temptation is to respond to someone because we want to say something, pre-thought while the other is speaking, driven to speak to hear our own voice. Listening actively challenges us to receive a person’s full being in the moment [Eye contact if visible, voice tone, diction, body language] and then reply to advance the connection.

Read Fiction for Empathy

Known to enhance social skills because character dialogues activate mirror neurons in the brain just as if we were actually in those life situations. Through fiction reading we absorb the lives of characters; doesn’t matter if they’re unreal.  Fiction comes from the subconscious, so it’s technically real, just as everything else we create around us comes from the subconscious.

Interpersonal + Intra-personal for Empathy

Empathy generally is associated with putting ourselves in another’s shoes to understand but that’s just part of the skill. Also important is how well we understand ourselves, our emotional content, the waves, notes, external experiences and their relationship to our inner world, being in sync with our internal symphony so we can accurately self-articulate these states for further understanding.  

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