yoga and meditation

Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.

Mohsin Hamid

Whether young or old empathy is a gift. Its roots reach deep into our brains and bodies. Associated with two different pathways in the brain, aspects of empathy may also be linked to the mirror neurons in our brain. Mirror neurons are cells that fire when we observe another perform an action in much the same way that they would activate if you yourself perform the action. Empathy may even have a genetic basis and some studies suggest that one can enhance or restrict natural empathetic abilities.

In contemporary times empathy has been divided into two types:

Affective Empathy

Affective empathy references the sensations and feelings that we have in response to the emotions of others. For example, this may look like mirroring what another is feeling or in response to another’s fear or anxiety.

Cognitive Empathy

Sometimes referred to as “perspective taking,” cognitive empathy references our ability to identify, understand, and relate to the emotions of others.

Why is empathy important? There are actually several reasons. Here are just a few:

  • Increases the likelihood that one will help someone else
  • Reduces prejudice and racism
  • Recues bullying
  • Fights inequality
  • Good for health care

Empathy is important in many professions: business, counseling, social work, leadership, medicine, relationships, nursing, and the list continues. It is also important in our day to day lives!

Resources and References:
Greater Good – What is Empathy?
Education.com – The Importance of Empathy: How to Strengthen Our Ability to Be Empathic?
GoodTherapy.org – Empathy
Zero to Three – Tips on Helping Your Child Develop Empathy
Psychology Today – Empathy
YouTube РBrené Brown on Empathy

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