Our ability to empathize also has a lot to do with where we are at as individuals. It is a known fact that hurting people hurt others. It is only logical that we give to others what we have experienced. When we are peace with ourselves, we will be at peace with others and vice versa. If we feel valued, we will find it easy to value others. How we relate with others is a reflection of how we relate with ourselves.
So the question is how do I empathize with you if I have never gone through what you are going through. I believe you do not have to experience what a person is going through so as to empathize with them. Often times we only need to be humanistic to be able to empathize.
Take an example; you walk into a ‘classy restaurant’ expecting the best customer care only to be met by pathetic attitudes of the people waiting on you. We are quick to judge and conclude that the people serving are unprofessional and may be uncultured. We rarely stop to think about what they could be going through that is pushing them to that point. Unfortunately we rarely make the time to empathize with them and appreciate them for the little effort they put in to attend to our needs.
I believe that being able to empathize comes down to first of being able to see others as fellow human beings with dignity. The perceptions we have about others are reflected in how we relate with them, if we change our perceptions, we will be able to change the way we relate with others. Empathy is more of an attitude than an action.
It is not our responsibility to evaluate the thoughts or actions of others but to simply be empathetic in how we think and act towards them. the ability to actively listen depends on having an open mind, a mind that is free of judgment and free of expectancy. How we choose to respond to life shapes our own continued perception. We all reap the results of the thoughts we have sown.
To see things accurately, we must understand our emotional investment in a situation as well as its external appearance or behavior. Both inner and outer realities must be taken into account. Our dignity lies in becoming fully human, fully receptive to our own needs and those of others.