Why Empathy Is One of the Most Important Life Skills

What is empathy? What are the types of empathy? Why is empathy important? Find out here.

An illustration showing two people exchanging books

At Gratitude, we often discuss the essential parts of human personality that can improve our society as a whole. And, we’ve always given the highest importance to empathy.

It’s what makes us do what we do. It’s the driving force of people forming beautiful relationships and experiences.

We think that if all of us develop empathy as a life skill, then days of spring are ahead of us. So, perhaps this post is my love letter to empathy *winks* diving into "Why is empathy important?" Hope you enjoy it ❤️

What is empathy?

Beginning with the definition, empathy is the ability to put yourself into someone else’s shoes. It’s to understand the feelings and situation of another person without necessarily being in that situation ourselves.

When someone is empathetic with you, you feel understood, accepted, and that your emotions are valued as well as validated.

When you are empathetic, you can visualize emotionally what the other person might be going through and you are able to provide them a space to be vulnerable without judgment.

Signs of an empathetic person include,

  1. Being a good listener
  2. People come to them for advice
  3. They are trusted by many
  4. They can understand emotions easily without much explanation
  5. They reach out to help others

Empathy is beautiful, and gratefully, it’s an ability that can be developed and honed.

Related: 9 Easy Tips to Improve Your Active Listening Skills

Types of empathy

There are 3 types of empathy that I’ll talk about here:

  1. Affective Empathy
    This is a type of empathy where you are able to understand someone’s feelings really well and give responses that mimic the other person’s reactions. This can lead you to feel concerned or sad depending upon the situation.
  2. Somatic Empathy
    Here, there’s a physical reaction to someone else’s predicament. You know, honestly, I learned about it just right now too. I always feel pain in my legs when someone describes their past injury, and I never understood why. Similarly, if you encounter someone in an embarrassing situation, it can transfer to you in the form of flushed cheeks.
  3. Cognitive Empathy
    This is, if I give a visual example, when you carry yourself through someone else’s train of thought. So, you would understand what they might think about a particular situation without them telling you. It’s to think about what they might be thinking.

Why is empathy important?

Upon learning about the types of empathy, our first thought can be to perceive it as a weakness. It can seem similar to transferring someone else’s pain upon us.

But, as empathy is a skill, we can choose to use it in a beneficial and empowering way. Empathy has to be used intelligently, otherwise, it might really end up working against us.

So, now let’s talk about the importance of empathy when it’s used wisely.

1. Forms meaningful connections

When we are genuinely empathetic to someone, it leaves a lasting impact on them. Think about a time when you felt understood without any visible misgivings by the other person.

When you felt that your situation and emotions were received with care and openness. It’s golden, isn’t it? It’s one of the most deeply meaningful experiences of life.

As you become more empathetic, you’ll be able to become a better person in every relationship of your life, be it with a friend, family member, colleague, partner, stranger, or even the world at large.

Related: 5 Ways to Use Gratitude to Grow Stronger Relationships

2. Develops wisdom without first-hand experiences

Empathetic people are great listeners. And, listening is a very effective way of learning.

Since empathy makes you put yourself in the place of others without actually experiencing their situation, you are able to learn lessons without even engaging in them.

Surely, first-hand experience is more powerful, but I’ve listened to a lot of people and I’ve read a lot. In fact, the only reason that I can write these blog posts and resonate with people around the world is empathy.

Related: 3 Simple Tips to Beat All or Nothing Thinking

3. Creates a humane society

Imagine a world full of empathetic people. People who reach out to one another. People who choose to accept more than expect. Those who don’t look out for only themselves.

Think of bosses who don’t treat their employees like machines, of parents who know their children aren’t the carriers of their unfulfilled dreams, politicians who use their power to bring promised change, of partners who shove their ego down and make room to understand, of people who acknowledge others’ limitations, of humans who observe the environment’s degradation.

And all of them together choose to act, not stay passive. I think empathy makes people understand that there are responsibilities that they might not have been handed, but ones that if they take upon will benefit the society as a whole.

Related: 50 Swami Vivekanand Quotes for Deep Wisdom

Well, that’s all I had to say about the importance of empathy. I think it’s a skill that schools and parents should inculcate into children. I do have an ideal vision for the world.

And, I’m not worried if it’s entirely possible or not. But, at least, I’ll do what I can to come closer to it.

My words are my way of holding your hand and taking you towards a kinder and truly humane world. If you want, you can choose to hold on.

I wish you beautiful moments in life! If this made you think, carry the conversation forward and share this with your friends and family.

👉 Continue reading:

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Aarushi Tewari

Aarushi Tewari

The writer and affirmations speaker at Gratitude, Aarushi believes that one of the most effective ways of feeling inner peace is by being grateful and having a loving self-relationship.

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