When we think about self-improvement, many of us sometimes don't think about the benefits of improving our sense of empathy. Usually, we think about empathy as a benefit for those around us. But building our own empathy actually helps make us more resilient to stress and unhappiness. And with less stress, means less of the negative physical and psychological consequences to your body and mind. In all, being empathic towards others helps create a positive cycle of empathy that allows the same people to help you.
Here are three ways to improve your own sense of empathy and manage your stress.
- Offer help to others. Helping others is a great way to build your sense of empathy, while also receiving help for yourself as well. As you give more and more of yourself, you'll also find that you will be more likely to accept help when you need it. And getting help during your most stressful periods is an important part to stress management. Even the smallest favors--such as holding a door open, or offering a few minutes to help someone fix the photocopier or their printer--can multiply in the day and make you feel much more empathetic.
- Actively listen. We can all work on our concentration and listening, especially when we are with others. When we listen to others, we strengthen our self-esteem, and also strengthen our relationships. And when others recognize your sincerity, they are likely to share that care with you as well.
- Put yourself in another person's shoes. Spend a few minutes every day putting yourself in another person's situation. By imagining how life is for someone else, you can better understand what they might need. For example, that woman who rudely responded to your phone call? Maybe she is having a rough day answering calls while her child is home sick. Or your slow project partner could be sick himself, and therefore can't work as fast as you're expecting him to. Giving others the benefit of the doubt while routinely looking at life through various perspectives can give you an empathic edge.
Overall, empathy can give all of us a boost when we practice it, for our own health and others. To learn more about this and related topics, visit the Self-Improvement or Career Advice sections of our blog.
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