Empathy is the ability to ‘feel what someone is feeling’ and then to offer up an appropriate response. The issue is when the response becomes so important to you that you lose sight of your own needs and feelings. This is why I was emotionally abused for so long. I don’t go into a relationship wanting empathy. Empathy is something that should be present, even though it will be in varying degrees from the respective partners. I didn’t think my empathic behavior would keep me beholden to my abuser for so long either.
Can you learn to express empathy?
Is empathy a sixth sense that we need to develop to make use of? Is it another emotion?
Empathy is something you are born with and it gets more honed as a skill as you get older. As children, we experience empathy but may not be aware of what we are feeling. Nurture has a major influence on our experiences with empathy, and how we handle it as we get older.
If empathy wasn’t inherent to us as humans, then we would all by definition be some form of a psychopath, sociopath or narcissist.
People who emotionally abuse others mimic empathy to get the reactions they are looking for from their victims. They are not using something which is a part of their make-up.
There may also be different levels of empathy. If we are born with empathy, then what we are taught as we grow up will determine how we are able to access and use it to the benefit of others.
Empathic and Empathetic
My understanding of the words ‘empathic’ and ‘empathetic’ may even convince me even further empathy is something we are born with. There is a history with the development and use of these words, and they are usually used as synonyms.
They don’t sound like synonyms to me.
‘Empathic’ tells me I have the traits of an empath who is using their intuition to express their almost duplicate feelings of someone going through a tough time.
‘Empathetic’ tells me I am showing empathy for someone from a distance and don’t get involved. It is being polite to express a form of camaraderie in a given situation.
Sympathy is something else. It is showing concern for someone in a bad situation.
Help me out here.