Empathy is defined, “The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.” Simply, it’s putting yourself into someone else’s shoes to see where they are coming from and why they are acting the way that they are.
How does empathy affect us though? There are so many benefits of empathy but the most important include: making you feel good, gives you a sense of identity, helps heal psychological problems such as loneliness and fear, helps with conflict resolution, and it expands our perspectives of different things.
Empathy could single handedly destroy bullying and therefore create a better environment to reduce depression and suicide in teens, which has been a huge epidemic in the past years. But how important is empathy? I think this is something that people need to learn early in their high school career or even before that because of the great impact it can make in a community and in other people’s lives.
But how do we learn empathy, and why are some people more empathetic than others? Is it too late for upper high schoolers to learn empathy?
According to “Psychology Today”, there are some neurological factors behind being empathetic. There’s a part in the brain called the right supramarginal gyrus that if it doesn’t properly function, causes one’s ability to empathize to reduce dramatically.
After seeing this, I wasn’t sure if I was discouraged or encouraged by the fact that maybe that’s why there is so much evil in the world; as it would be nearly impossible for me to do some of the evil things some people do to others. I wondered, is there a way someone can learn empathy?
An article by “theconversation.com” talks about how as someone grows older it becomes harder to become empathetic and learn how to show empathy. There are four steps that even adults can use to learn and show empathy.
The first step is hearing and seeing the benefits of empathy and being taught how beneficial it is for our lives.
The second step would be seeing it in action and how it is shown through different situations.
The next step would be to practice empathy in different staged conversations with whoever is teaching the person empathy.
The last step would be constructive criticism from the person teaching the other about empathy to allow the person to improve their ability to empathize.
What can we do with these steps and how can they help us as a community? I think these steps should be shown to all students in the New Berlin District because of all of the benefits that it could bring to the school and the community as a whole.