Forbes: The Empathy Dilemma

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Do You Have Too Much Empathy?

Empathy is when you care about others in both sadness and joy. Empathy allows you to understand where another person is coming from even if you don’t agree with them. It bridges differences and opens communication with others. The world needs more empathic leaders, parents and people in every profession.

Just as intelligence can be measured with an IQ, you can assess your level of empathy. Click HERE to take an empathy quiz adapted from my book The Empath’s Survival Guide .

How to Develop Empathy

Empathy is a skill that you can developed through mindful awareness. To do this first quiet your inner chatter so you can bring your total presence to a conversation. Then take the time to listen carefully to what the other person is saying. Even if you don’t agree with them, try to understand what they are experiencing and feeling. This will allow you to develop more empathy for the other person and improve your ability to communicate with them.

How to Cope with Empathy Overload

If you’re prone to empathy overload, it’s important to learn to center and protect yourself and practice on-going self-care. When you find yourself overwhelmed, take a breath to center yourself and make time to meditate and decompress. Get out in nature to relax if you can. It’s also wonderful to learn how to set kind but firm boundaries with others so you don’t over commit yourself. In addition, it’s important to realize that it’s not your job to emotionally fix others and that people deserve the dignity of navigating their own healing path.

No matter what your empathy level is, it’s always possible to develop more empathy and to protect and center yourself if you are experiencing empathy overload. You don’t have to absorb the stress of the world.

Judith Orloff, MD is the New York Times best-selling author of The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People. Her latest book Thriving as an Empath offers daily self-care tools for sensitive people along with its companion The Empath’s Empowerment Journal. Dr. Orloff is a psychiatrist, an empath, and is on the UCLA Psychiatric Clinical Faculty. She synthesizes the pearls of traditional medicine with cutting edge knowledge of intuition, energy, and spirituality. Dr. Orloff also specializes in treating empaths and highly sensitive people in her private practice. Dr. Orloff’s work has been featured on The Today Show, CNN, Oprah Magazine, the New York Times and USA Today. Dr. Orloff has spoken at Google-LA and has a TEDX talk. Her other books are Emotional Freedom, The Power of Surrender, Second Sight, Positive Energy, and Guide to Intuitive HealingExplore more information about her Empath Support Online course and speaking schedule on www.drjudithorloff.com.

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