By Denise O’Doherty
Having Empathy for others not only increases one's value in the eyes of others but is also a major contributor for successful, and satisfying romantic relationships. Empathy is the ability to see a point of view from another's perspective, even when their perspective is different from yours. It is when you let another know that they make sense, even if you don't agree. For example, " I see why you want to go to that movie, it got great reviews and you like movies with action and some violence but it's really not my kind of movie and I'd prefer if you go with someone else". Being able to tell your partner that they make sense, other than shaming them or putting them down for their feeling or choice is a component of empathy.
Many couples come to couples counseling hoping their partner will develop more empathy. Developing empathy in therapy can be easily achieved when two people want a closer relationship. The rewards empathy brings is not only bonding but also lasting. Many people express in therapy that they want empathy from their parents or family members in hopes of being acknowledged and more understood.
Again, you don't have to have the same experience to have empathy. I knew a man whose house burned down to the ground. He had a wife and 3 children who subsequently had to temporarily live with a neighbor and who lost everything in the fire. He said what helped him the most was when someone responded with empathy saying how difficult it must be to have lost everything and to have to start over. We all know what it's like to have to start over and to feel like we have lost everything. Connecting with the feeling, is empathy. We don't have to have the same experience.
The following article by Wynn Schwartz Ph.D explains more on empathy. Try and empathize today. See how it touches others in your life and notice what it can do for you
Denise O’Doherty, LPC, LMFT, MSN, LCDC, RN
"The purpose of therapy is to create positive changes, to enhance ones sense of self and to find manageable and empowering solutions to life's challenges."
Denise is in private practice in Houston and provides counseling to individuals, couples, and families of varying age, gender, race and sexual orientations.
Take one of her self-awareness classes at Leisure Learning unlimited. She is available for presentations, lectures and classes teaching self-enhancement to adults interested in empowerment and self-growth.