Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Power of Empathy

Recently, I have been taking a class with my church entitled, Emotional Healthy Spirituality. The course syllabus, if you will, is filled with exercises and practices to help you become more emotionally mature so that you may become more spiritually mature. During one of the first few classes we were given an info graphic with a “feeling wheel” on it. It was a colored pie chart with six basic emotions listed in the center such as mad and sad. As you move out from the center of the pie, more detailed and descriptive emotions are listed, such as hostile, remorseful, or apathetic. In order to dive into the class, I wanted to start cataloging my feelings every day.

After a few days I was starting to notice a pattern; I would come home and sit down to describe the day, but all I could come up with was “good” or “fine”. However, good and fine aren’t on the feeling wheel. It wasn’t long after this puzzle that I began to see that I do not usually understand how I feel, or rather that I don’t take the time to feel. Most days I come to end feeling numb and dormant, almost like I am not really living. Like many, I go through the motions without feeling the emotions. This self-knowledge really scared me. I didn’t want to “live” while not really living.

The beauty of Clifton StrengthsFinder is that it shows us who we are at our most natural self. I have noticed that many people around me lead with Empathy. Clifton StrengthsFinder says “people strong in the Empathy theme can sense the feelings of other people by imagining themselves in others' lives or others' situations.” So, not only can those with Empathy feel, they can actually feel the feelings of others.

I see the power of Empathy as its ability to help others understand what they are feeling. Even though I cannot put a name to my feelings (yet), when I am around my roommate, coworkers, or any number of the hundreds of mentors in our program, who lead with Empathy, I can understand my own feelings through them. Simply through the power of their strength, those with Empathy help people like me, not only to better understand ourselves, but also the world around us. People with Empathy take me from a numb human to one that is alive, experiencing and feeling life, complete with the good, the bad, and the ugly.


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