Is Empathy Extinct?


Sometimes I feel like empathy; real, true understanding of another human being, is becoming extinct. Not only is the understanding gone, the attempt to understand another person is a dying art as well.

Because of my hormone imbalances and nutritional deficiencies due to cancer and the results of having it removed, I take a lot of supplements and vitamins. This idea of empathy becoming extinct got me thinking- how different would the world be if we could take a daily dose of empathy?

As a counselor, it is my primary goal to have the people I work with feel heard and understood. To put myself in their place for a short time in order to see what they see, through their eyes. This is easier to do, in my opinion, when judgement is left at the door.

I have been astounded at the fact that most people cannot empathize with each other. While I believe people try, empathy seems to be disappearing and being replaced with judgement. When did we forget how to listen, without pretenses, without blame, and with an open heart and mind?

I believe it is the human condition to want to relate. To relate to another soul on a simple, pure level. To feel understood and supported. There is a phrase that I’ve been hearing lately: “holding space.” From my understanding, this concept is simple: to be there for others and yourself and allow space to just be. No judgement, no advice. Hold space for another human soul, to express their thoughts/feelings/emotions, to be silent, and to do whatever they need to do to take a step towards healing. It sounds simple enough, so why do so few practice it?

As a collective group, we are all seeking healing. Every one of us has been hurt and we all bear the scars that come with living life. I believe that holding space for others and ourselves is the key. To bear witness to another’s scars and to have someone bear witness to ours in return is powerful. It is the essence of relationship. Why then do we complicate it with demands, judgements, blame, and self-centeredness? Because we are human. That’s the ironic part. What we all need, we cannot give to others because our needs are not being met. As you can see it becomes a vicious cycle.

So what if instead of striving to get our needs met or to meet the needs of others, we hold space for ourselves and others? We bear witness to their successes and struggles. We are there for others, without wanting anything in return. Then we could all get our daily dose of empathy and have plenty to give away in return.

Read about holding space for yourself HERE.

Read about holding space for others HERE.

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