Brene Brown says that there is a big difference between empathy and sympathy. She says, "Empathy fuels connections, Sympathy drives disconnection".
Theresa Wiseman, a nursing scholar, says that empathy is about four things: 1. Perspective-taking 2. Staying out of judgment 3. Recognizing emotions in other people 4. Communicating that you recognize their emotions.
It's so easy for us to sit in the seat of wanting to be empathized, that we don't focus want to empathize. With the current state of affairs, empathizing with others could go a long way.
In some areas, Covid-19 has drastically increased anxiety levels. These levels have taken shape of how we conduct our every days lives - from business operations to faith-based practices and academic policy ambiguities; down to parental apprehensions. Currently, local news channels introduce the story title, "Are Masks Enough to keep us protected from the virus?" Well, given me YET ANOTHER shot of anxiety booster!! We were just was introduced with a total shift of how we socialize and interact with others, now less than 2 months later, we are questioning if it's enough?
In these situations, it seems so easy to tell people...."Well, at least.....". It's natural to say to the restaurant worker and mailman, "at least you have a job". Or to the single working mom who's working from home, "at least you get to spend more time with your child".
Brene Brown indicated that "Rarely does an empathetic response start with at least. Rarely can a response make something better. What makes something better is connection."
POINT: Empathy is all about connecting. In these times of uncertainty on multiple levels, it's not advised that we come in close contact with one another - honor Social Distancing - but it is imperative that we connect - somehow someway.
HOW: Waiters and Waitresses normally thrive off of tips. We're not sitting down at their tables so we should tip the runners that bring us our food curbside. That's a way to connect. Letter carriers and Lyft drivers are susceptible to the coronavirus, so when coming within 6 feet, wear a mask. You show your empathy and connection by caring about their safety. A great way to empathize with a Pastor is to send a donation to the church, even if you can't go to the building right now. Because once this pandemic is over, the pastor and the building will be there ready to love and care.
I was talking to Rosette Ladson, a professional counselor, and she expressed the need for empathy for "teacher moms", those moms who are teachers by occupations. She expressed that they're under a lot of pressure having to teach their students from home while teaching and entertaining their own child. She pointed me to Social and Emotional Health, which are developmental abilities that she monitors within her students. One of the developmental things she monitors is her students' ability to empathize.
Ms Ladson states, "A practical way to embodying empathy is feeling or understanding how someone else is feeling" - a simple approach and definition used to teach kids about empathy.
We all love the feeling of being extended empathy. Now its time for us to stretch our compassion and cover others with empathy.
Reflect/Feedback: What are three ways you can empathize with others?
Who are three people that you can empathize with?
Let us hear your voice, our community wants to hear from you!
Written by: Q. Edmonds
(Inspired by Rosette Ladson, LGPC, Educator at Powell Elementary School)