I will never forget the first time I was introduced to the word Empathy and its meaning. I was sitting in my High School English class, freshman year, and my teacher handed us a sheet of paper with this definition on it:
Empathy (em-pa-thy); noun : the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner.
In other words, Empathy is when you understand and share in another person's experiences and emotions. My teacher informed us that empathy is different from sympathy in that sympathy is the feeling that you care about and are sorry about someone else's trouble, grief, or misfortune, and empathy is when you relate to and experience the feelings of another within yourself, as if you are experiencing the same joy and/or pain that they are.
I had never heard of empathy before but I knew it and understood it deep in my soul. It resonated throughout my body, and still does, in a way only profound revelations can. I finally had a word to put to all the deep understanding and shared feelings I had with others. I understood a bit more about what others called my “sensitive nature.”
I believe empathy is one of the key cornerstones to living a happy and fulfilled life, and it's something I've abandonded over the years. I used to see empathy as a burden, because why would I want to go around feeling everyone else’s pain? But I've learned that empathy also allows me to feel the abundant joy that surrounds me as well. Empathy brings us together. It’s a bonding agent that creates an environment where nobody has to feel alone. Empathy says “I see you. I hear you. I know you. You are not alone.” Who doesn’t want that? Who doesn’t want to be on the giving and receiving end of empathy? It’s one of our greatest gifts. And what's even more amazing is it's a gift we can offer ourselves. To be empathetic with one's self and not throw yourself out in the the cold dark night is the birth place for love, joy, belonging, and peace.
So today I want to share three songs that I love because of their deep empathetic message. I love love love these songs and I become teary every time I hear them on the radio. I hope you have people in your life who love you and see you for who you truly are; and most importantly, I hope you see yourself and love yourself for who you truly are. You are loved. You are not alone. xo
Hero by Family of the Year
Everybody Hurts by R.E.M.
Carry On by Fun