“I think we all have empathy. We may not have enough courage to display it.” Maya Angelou
I found this quote very insightful. Placing empathy with courage.
The last week or two I have witnessed loved ones go through difficult times. Their challenges were on very separate planes, but life shattering just the same. It has led me to reflect on a few terms.
Understanding- grasp an idea, perceive a meaning
Sympathy-feelings of compassion
Empathy-vicariously experience the same feelings/thoughts/attitudes
It seems to me that these words go in order. For me to reach a point of empathy, I first need to understand. Once I come to a place where I grasp what is happening, then I can have feelings of compassion. Empathy goes further, in that I embrace -not their experience, for it is their journey-but I can ‘hug’ them as I connect to their feelings.
That’s where the courage comes in. The courage to stop my crazy daily rush and demands to understand. Sometimes, I’d rather keep my head in the sand.
What I don’t know, I don’t have to respond to-I try to tell myself. Finding out about trouble will undoubtably call for response. There’s the courage. Do I have the courage to understand, thereby allowing me to feel sympathy, and ultimately to share empathy?
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Stephen Covey