On this picture my children are pictured with their dog Sunny. Sunny was a loyal, loving life companion who went to dog heaven last week. Snieef. You could tell him anything. What you wish your best friend be like, he had it 100%:
He could listen.
He got nothing wrong.
He was not resentful.
He could feel how you felt.
Sometimes he suffered with you. That hurt twice.
Who can afford the luxury of compassion in hectic professional life? Fact is that many people suffer every day. And empathetic people feel their suffering and slowly slowly risk to burn out, shut down, resign or become depressed. And these people are not only doctors, nurses and teachers who are around a lot of people every day.
It is not uncommon that very unproductive company cultures rule in very successful companies: people talk about the other’s behind their back, there is no open communication and if there is communication, undertones or ulterior motives are standard. People shut down. No vision and no hope for change. Eyes wide shut. Don’t feel, just do it. A remedy to get frustrated and sick.
Closing up emotionally and all kinds of distracting strategies are no solution to solve the cause of the problem. On the contrary, it worsens the situation. Frequently, there are psychological and psychosomatic consequences, in short, illnesses such as burnout, depression and, precisely (crucially), heart disease.
Ouch. No wonder many people are dissatisfied in their job. It’s not just about what you do, but how you do the things, you do. What attitude you take to work in the morning. What is your working environment like. The space you’re in. We are more than intelligent bodies. We are sentient beings. There is no doubt, we are energy, vibration, frequency; whether you believe it or not. The inner world is what creates the outer world. Therefor, feeling consciously is crucial, denying feelings is a dead end road.
What is the difference between empathy, pity and compassion?
Empathy is the ability to notice what is going on in other people. Or according to Wikipedia:
Empathy refers to the ability and willingness to recognize and understand another person’s sensations, thoughts, emotions, motives, and personality traits. Empathy also commonly includes the ability to respond adequately to other people’s feelings, such as compassion, grief, pain, and compassionate compassion.
BUT: Recent brain research, however, suggests a distinctness of the empathic power from compassion. AND: The basis of empathy is self-awareness – the more open a person is to their own emotions, the better they can interpret the feelings of others.
So anyone who does not clearly perceive his own emotional world can not interpret the feelings of others. And that’s where a problem often begins: Who has the time and the nerve to deal with his or her inner life? Feel? What’s this? Many people only realize that they have abandoned their inner world and that life for them happens in the thinking mind, instead here and now, when they have burnout, some kind of addiction or depression.
The difference between empathy and compassion probably makes the difference between getting sick and staying healthy. Compassion has something to do with benevolent desires for the other person. You may call it love. Empathy limits itself to “pure sympathy” with the emotional waves of others. Obviously that person becomes quickly permeable and prone to get his own emotional world flooded by the emotional waves of others. The empaths among us know this very well. Compassion is, so to say, the deliberate choice to play out the ability of mirror neurons to feel other people’s feelings and moods by adding the love factor.
Heart and head come together: Instead of simply riding their wave, the benevolent intention, the loving wish for the other person, rather than letting themselves be drawn into the suffering of others. This is where active action comes into play in the form of listening, understanding and forgiving. A hug sometimes can be already too much.
Imagine that would be “gear and give” in everyday life. What would be different? Perhaps the very fact that one’s own expectation would be free of prejudice against the behavior or the being the way others are. That would help a lot. And a plethora of new opportunities could gain momentum…
The following article describes scientific measurements of which regions in the brain of people who feel compassion versus empathy or compassion. Do not be irritated by the fact that this neuroscientific study description was published on a Buddhist website: It’s not about who believes what, but about what’s really going on in your head! https://info-buddhism.com/Empathy-Compassion-Neuroscience-Ricard-Altruism.html
What about YOU: How can this knowledge be implemented in your own daily life or even in your professional environment in order to make co-working not only healthier and more productive but also more loving and enjoyable?
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