So here's the thing, empathy is one of the most ridiculous emotions.
Hardly anyone can even truly understand what it means, practically zero can practice it and the world has almost left it like a fancy way of saying, 'sympathy'.
But it's not, it's so much more.
This is the dictionary meaning of empathy - "the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.".
Which in my opinion, is spot on! That's the best way to characterize and simplify empathy within 10 words. But here's where the problem occurs, empathy is too big of an emotion to be simplified into say, 10 words.
Empathy is the emotion of feelings. It's the sadness of happiness and the joy of melancholy, in a way. You can't use broad terms like "understand and share the feelings" because feelings of others cannot truly be understood by anyone other than the one experiencing it.
How is someone supposed to relate to the loss of another no matter how hard they try, if all they've ever experienced themselves is suburbia. How is another supposed to relate to intense success of their friend's when all they've touched upon is an odd penny in their trouser pocket.
Empathy is something to be ridiculed. It is not an emotion. No one can successfully feel empathy for it doesn't exist!
But, if you try and try ( the hard way ), maybe you can glimpse it for a second. Here's how.
1. Forget putting yourself in someone's shoes and ask them what it's like.
Emotions are relative so you can't empathize without understanding how someone feels a certain emotion. I'm sure the person whom you're asking would be more than happy to tell you, for then they too have someone they can talk to about it. Asking someone what they're feeling, not as definite emotions, but rather what they're experiencing in that moment, is one of the nicest thing you can do.
It's sort of like ditching "how are you?" and the average "fine" for " How are your thoughts doing today and what's the mood of your soul? " with a response of " Yes/No, here's what i'm feeling. Thank you for asking. Shall we talk about it over a cup of coffee?" ( In the least pretentious way, of course. )
2. If no matter how hard you try to understand a person's explanation of their emotions, you still can't, make it clear.
Tell your fellow "empathee" that no matter how much time you've spent sat on the toilet thinking about it for two minutes extra, you just can't relate. Chances are that they'll laugh ( ALWAYS a bonus) and then you two can proceed with whatever step you choose to take next. But the dangerous point in the transition between understanding them and empathizing is to stumble across a useless and unimaginative emotion, sympathy.
Stay clear of sympathy at all costs no matter how close you sometimes get to feeling it, it's only trash, that I can promise you. ( I can't be bothered to touch upon apathy )
( this is a quick and creative post and i just had a little burst of imagination and thought to share it with you, thank you for staying right till the end. Have a lovely day. )