Cultivating Empathy

Empathy is more than just having excellent listening skills. Empathy is our ability to connect with other’s emotions and feel them as if they were our own. On a deep level, you can understand what the other person is going through and the pain or joy that is associated with it. Empathy can leave you feeling uncomfortable physically, mentally, and spiritually because you are so open to other people’s feelings and energy.

You can have empathy without the other person saying a word. Have you ever walked into a room and felt that there was so much tension you could cut it with a knife? You were absorbing the energy and emotion that the people in the room were giving off. Additionally, you can have empathy for a group that is suffering. You can feel collective empathy with others around the world when a tragedy happens. Right now, you might be feeling mutual empathy about the COVID-19 crisis.

To cultivate empathy, it requires an ability to control your emotions, not just connect with them. If we cannot understand our emotional vitality, how are we supposed to understand the feelings of others fully? Controlling our emotions is one of the hardest skills for humans to master because we are naturally reactive beings who are easily emotionally enraged. It is easy for our emotions to go haywire and feel like we are “out of control.” When this happens, our emotions can color our perceptions and cloud our decision making. It is only after that we realize our actions were not logically a good idea. Spiritual empathy seeks to fix this disconnect. It is a state of living where you unite your mind and emotions to live in better harmony.

Our minds can help bring logic and clarity to our emotions. We can calmly say, “I accept my feelings for what they are. I feel them, and I will let them flow through me.” Jenny Florence of the HuffPost brings this idea together. She says, “When we listen to our lives through our logical thinking, we are listening to life through the intelligence of our minds. When we listen to our lives through our emotions, we are listening to life through the intelligence of our hearts. We need both, not one at the expense of the other, and empathy sits at the very core of our ability to engage with life from both our heart, as well as our mind.”

Through cultivating spiritual empathy, we can offer better healing and understanding to those who need it most. Spiritual empathy is a special gift. When someone is suffering, you can submit a beacon of hope. You can treat them through prayer, kindness, sending positive intentions, meditation, or other avenues to spiritual connection. You can offer advice on the right path to take.

Spiritual empathy will present a challenge when if you forget that the purpose of your spiritual gift is healing, and not for taking on the other person’s energy. Over time, taking on so much negativity will leave you feeling broken down, overwhelmed, and lost. You must stay in touch with your feelings and take care of your needs first. Remember that you are there to offer healing, not take on their burdens completely. When you recognize this, you can let go of the pain you took on.

Cultivating spiritual empathy lets us free from a life where our emotions are at the steering wheel, and instead come to a place of “integrated living where our emotions fuel us, but with a mind that offers of conscious, reflective choice.” It gives us the power to understand and connect with others, and ourselves, on a more meaningful level. Empathy will enlighten you spiritually as you help heal other’s pain.