Tuesday, 31 July 2012

 The Power Of Awareness And Empathy 

Awareness of self and of those around us provides us with the gift of empathy. When we are truly able to empathise, we become closer to being a better human being. Empathy is a trait that we can all learn. It begins to emerge when we are able to dissolve our ego. That is, not to focus only on ourselves, our needs and wants. Of course, we are all conscious of how we want to live, for some, it's about how to survive and get by. However, if we are only focused in this way, we neglect our spiritual needs. By that, I’m referring to aspects that make us more conscious of the world around us. One might say; the things that are not all about us.

Some of the individuals I coach, are daunted when I explain to them that when our ego is dissolved,  we become an improved version of who we are. A gentleman banker I worked with recently, just couldn’t see the point of letting go of his ego. For him, the very thought was an anathema. It was as if he’d been conditioned to believe that he was the centre of the universe. Therefore, almost everything that happened to him mattered to everyone else.

It's only by attempting to develop a non-egotistic mind, that we can explore the great benefits that emerge from not just focusing on ourselves. I used to think that individuals who conveyed scoops of empathy and compassion, had what contemporary psychologists describe as a 'natural pattern': a talent that enables them to feel and communicates empathetically naturally. Lately, I've discovered that what seemingly comes natural, is a hard earned skill. In essence, when we are empathetic toward others, we are making a sacrifice. That's because we are giving our attention to another individual. It's like saying, his/her needs are greater than mine, therefore, here, I don't come first.

One of the big advantages of seeing life through the eyes of another, is that it diverts your attention away from the concerns you have that only relate to you, and are about you. The reason for this is because when we give our complete attention to someone else's life challenges, our own become less of a concern. In essence, that's how we can reduce catastrophizing less about our lot. Somehow, the more time we spend worrying about our concerns, no matter how small or large, they tend to expand exponentially. So, giving of yourself to another person and their needs, no matter what you are going through, is a positive strategy for reducing stress and worry.