Monday, June 29, 2015

Do I really need to be Empathetic?

If you want to have a fantastic relationship with your partner, empathy is paramount.   It’s what’s lacking in many couples that I’ve helped.

First let’s define exactly what empathy is.   It’s likened to getting inside someone’s head and understand what they’re thinking and feeling in THEIR world, not yours.  It doesn’t mean you have to agree – just understand.  You’ve heard the expression ‘walk a mile in my shoes’ – that’s empathy.

Relationships are likened to a ‘dance’.  Together you move as one.  It feels awesome!  How easy would that be with someone as stiff as a board?  Two left feet?  No rhythm?  We can liken this to a person without empathy.

When you show empathy to another, you’re creating a strong bond that will help you get through the tough times.  Without empathy your partner will distant themselves from you.  They don’t feel listened to or understood.  You’ll be left wondering what went wrong.

Carl R. Rogers* explains nicely how showing empathy is a sign of strength of character, not weakness

“….you lay aside the views and values you hold for yourself in order to enter another's world without prejudice… means that you lay aside yourself and this can only be done by a person who is secure enough in himself…..  Perhaps this description makes clear that being empathic is a complex, demanding, strong yet subtle and gentle way of being.” 

In my practice, I’ve successfully guided individuals to develop empathy in their relationship. Do you need to develop more empathy in your relationship(s)?

* Dr. Carl R. Rogers, the creator of client-centered counseling, student-centered education, and person-centered approaches to human relations and community building is arguably the most influential American psychologist of the 20th century (