dealing with empathy man holding glasses up so we can see through the lens

PART OF OUR LARGER SERIES ON EMOTIONS

APATHY ARTICLESYMPATHY ARTICLE

In this New World of immediate gratification and things needed to be done yesterday. With any urge or indulgence fulfilled at the click of a button. Sadly, Impatience, Apathy, and Ignorance is the new norm for much of the world.

Judgmental behaviors and a lack of caring are ruling the day for much of the human species, and the desensitizing of our modern culture seems to go hand in hand with our technological advances. 

What is more fascinating is if you ask anyone do you have empathy or sympathy towards another living thing. What is the response?

“Sure, of course I do.”

Upon closer examination, do you really? For Example, have you ever heard a friend say…

“Oh, I’m an Animal Lover”.

Really? Do you eat meat and dairy products? “Well, yeah, but…”. So you love dogs and cats and other pets maybe. But Chickens, Cows, and Fish, oh no screw them! You see it’s this lack of our own understanding about who we claim to be and who we actually are, which can be the problem.

Let’s be honest with ourselves. You can’t say your an Animal Lover if you supply the demand for thousands of animals in your lifetime to be tortured and murdered to fill you tummy tomb.

“Know Thyself” – Delphic Maxim

In regards to the Empathy Spectrum, Where are you? Just a little apathy to animals, but not for people, or vice versa. Care about the loss of life on the news, but its forgotten 10 seconds later. Are you a giver or a taker?

Hopefully, this can be an eye opener for some, and for others a moment of clarity.boy and girl walking down a dirt road with arm around each other in black and white showing empathy

In this Article we will be discussing the caring emotion of Empathy. Many confuse this emotional trait with sympathy and other similar emotions. However, it is vastly different. 

Further, we will discuss the traits of empathy. The difference between empathy and sympathy. And if what we consume can help or hurt our empathy for another person or animal. Also, we would be remiss to discuss if CBD can help.

Also, some Tips to Develop more Empathy, as well as some Additional Resources for you to check out.

WHAT IS EMPATHY?

Empathy is the capacity and ability to place yourself, mentally and emotionally, in another’s position. Whether it is another person, animal, or fictional character. Emotionally, it extends well beyond sympathy and many people confuse the two.

Developing Empathy is crucial for behaving and living compassionately. It is also important in establishing and growing relationships.

infographic showings types of empathyMore specifically, there are different states of empathy that an individual can have.

Cognitive Empathy – Understanding and taking another’s perspective in their situation.

Emotional Empathy – Sharing an Emotional Experience with another. Distress over the situation and a desire to help.

Somatic Empathy – Physical manifestations of another’s emotions i.e. crying you cry, embarrassed you blush.

WHY IS EMPATHY IMPORTANT?

The Golden Rule – Treat Others How You Would Like to Be Treated – Luke 6:31. This is not just a religious or spiritual belief, but a practical one for any person.

In other words, a self-interest concept, a little Freudian we know, but even the altruistic characteristic of Empathy there still is a bit of self interest. Like giving to charity makes us feel good.

We all will experience hurt and pain in life, its just part of the deal. In those times of tears and sadness, wouldn’t you want someone to be there?

Developing Empathy and incorporating it into your daily life is both beneficial for you and the one experiencing the issue. It Can Help With:

  • Building Better Relationships
  • Cooperating with Others
  • Intervening when Someone is being Mistreated
  • Making Better Moral Decisions
  • Better Career Success

Unfortunately, many people still have greater empathy for people like themselves and people or animals closer to them. As oppose to outside their family, ethnicity, or race.

white woman and black man shake hands in black and whiteGENETIC?

NATURE VS. NURTURE?

A Research Study conducted by 23andme.com, found that there was a specific variant genetically, as related to our ability to empathize. This was discovered on Chromosome 3, near the Gene LRRN1 in the Striatum, which is a highly active part of the Brain and the region where “reward” processing occurs.

Although, the research is relatively new, it seems that this part of the brain is connected with our ability to empathize.

The Nature vs. Nurture Argument is a highly contentious debate. Is it all genetics? Or does our environment, social interactions, and/or how we were raised affect empathy as well?

One Study using twins, conducted by the University of Bonn (Link below) showed the results of Affective or Emotional Empathy at 52-57% heritable, whereas Cognitive Empathy was about 27% heritable likely influenced by environment and learning experiences.

Most of us can agree, that how and where we were raised affects many things in our lives. From how we view the world to how we feel about current events.

Empathy is just another trait that is likely influenced by both genetics and our environment. 

two kangaroos embracing with a kissSYMPATHY VS. EMPATHY

Many people use these two terms interchangeably. They both have their roots in terms of showing compassion and caring towards another living thing. However, there are some slight differences.

  • Sympathy is the sharing of feelings with another.
  • Empathy is when you understand the feelings of another, but do not necessarily share them.
  • Sympathy has been around in English since the 16th Century
  • Empathy is a relatively new term established in Psychology
  • Sympathy shows compassion and concern
  • Empathy is a much deeper level of an internal and emotional connection
  • Sympathy expresses emotion over a situation without being connected to it
  • Empathy is expressing emotion and being connected
  • Sympathy can belittle another’s situation; Well at least you have your health
  • Empathy is almost subsuming the other’s emotions within yourself

For example, you watch the news and a found out a Mother had died in a local car crash. You feel bad for the family and sad for a minute and say that sucks. Flip the channel and the emotion is usually forgotten.

For people with strong empathy traits like Empaths. This is much deeper. It can take on physical manifestations and linger in one’s mind for a long period of time. You see that same news story of a car crash, but you start crying, you think of the family or children and you become depressed or nauseous. 

Essentially, you supplant yourself in the shoes of the children who lost their mother, or husband who lost his wife and all the grief and heartache that comes. This trait is far greater than sympathy. 

For people like Empaths or Highly-Sensitive People, empathy can be debilitating as well. Mainly because there is no switch to shut off and no stopping it.

Another’s situation can and many times takes over their minds, while some can also have physical pain manifestations at the same location of the inflicted.

homeless man holding a sign saying seeking human kindness in black and whiteCAN CBD HELP?

CBD works within the Endocannabinoid System or ECS. Essentially, this is a cell signaling system located all throughout the body, skin, organs, brain, etc.

CBD doesn’t bind to these receptors, but acts like a lock and key mechanism; allowing good compounds to enter these sites, or block bad compounds from entering. 

Many people use CBD for mood issues. i.e. anxiety or depression. So indirectly CBD may help.  For example, if you are feeling better about yourself or care more about yourself, then it is likely you will have more compassion and empathy for others. 

DO MEDICATIONS AFFECT EMPATHY?

YES! Have you ever been on a painkiller? You know that sort of functioning numb feeling you get. Your stable and alert, but nothing really gets to you, C’est la Vie!

In 2016 a study was done on Acetaminophen (The Main Ingredient in Tylenol and about 600 other Medicines) and Empathy, and the results showed that taking this actually reduces empathy in people. Scary to think! Since millions take some form of this everyday. 

The study was from Ohio State University and found that it dulls you to the misfortunes of others.

8 TIPS TO DEVELOP MORE EMPATHY

  • Put Yourself in Their Shoes – Whether it is your friend or a small homeless animal
  • Ask Questions – What Where Why How Who; Show them that you are there for them
  • Acknowledge the Other Person’s Feelings – I’m Sorry, Tell me More. Instead of it’s No Big Thing, Don’t Worry about it. That is belittling the situation
  • Engage – Did you ever open up to someone for 5-10 minutes, then all they say is “Okay” or “I See”. Be in the Moment and reiterate and respond accordingly.
  • Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged – One of the biggest imperfections as Humans is we always judge. The person coming to you is usually in emotional pain and hurt. The last thing we need to do is judge them
  • Be Positive – Encourage the other person being optimistic and showing you genuinely care about their situation. A few kind words can make someone’s day.
  • Active Listening – They do this in Marriage Counseling and when you reiterate the other person’s words and actually hear them repeated back to you, you know they heard you. Most people hear, but few listen. 
  • IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU – Breaking News! Everything isn’t about you, focus on another’s issues wholeheartedly. Most people today, only ask a question in hopes of getting one asked back to them so can blabber on.

CONCLUSION:

There is an old saying about Problems – 90% of people don’t care you have them, and 10% are glad you do!

In the last 20 years we have seen a major dip in empathy and sympathy, as well as a skyrocketing of mental health issues. Not surprisingly that this coincides with the advent of the Internet, cellphones, and the social isolation that these technologies foster.

But, there is no going back so we must adapt and create new solutions. Or else humanity is going to be in real danger, and the one of the most important things we can do is to become more caring individuals to all forms of life. This is why Empathy is of utmost importance.

Overall, we hoped this article sheds some new light on Empathy and how it differs from Sympathy. Also, the different types and genetic and/or environmental predispositions some have. As well as our Empathy Tips.

MORE RESOURCES:

Research Study of Twins: Empathy-Nature vs. Nurture

15 Signs You Might be an Empath

 

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