• Adam Bowcutt

Practicing Empathy Builds Psychological Strength and Future Value

Updated: Apr 22

You can’t understand someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.

A robot cannot understand or practice empathy, yet. Are you an empath, or do you sense how others feel?

You are not a robot. AI (Artificial Intelligence) and robots are coming to compete for your livelihood.


Robots are already doing tasks once completed by humans. This is increasing because of its economic benefits to companies that require profit to grow.

You are human. We are humans, and we have amazing capabilities that artificial intelligence and robots do not possess – yet. Right now we must strengthen our empathy for the sake of our future.


Humans are emotional sentient beings with a beautiful ability to sense, feel, and perceive things on a level that’s ineffable or too great for words to describe. For example, I am writing this exact sentence right now. I am attempting to explain using the English language and words to describe a feeling. It’s not even close. A word is simply a representation of a thing. Empathy is a thing that simply cannot be explained. It must be felt. It’s visceral.


Ask questions

Gather as much relevant information about the other person. Ask questions or research using the internet. Once you have enough knowledge, close your eyes and imagine you are the other person. What are they thinking, feeling, seeing, doing and most importantly why? Humans have a wonderful ability of intuition. Knowing without having to fully understand. There will be an element of bias because you are unique and your perception of the world and others is specific to you. With practise you will become more adept at being empathetic. It will begin to change the way you connect with others. You’ll experience less frustration, become calmer in social situations with new people and become more confident.


Did you know that a person diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM – 5) of the American Psychiatric Association exhibits a lack of empathy, particularly an inability to feel remorse for one’s actions. ‘Many people with ASP do seem to lack a conscience, but not all of them,’ he explains. Psychopaths always have this symptom, however, which is what makes them especially dangerous. ‘When you don’t experience remorse, you’re kind of freed up to do anything – anything bad that comes to mind,’ says Dr Black [1]

I had a conversation via text message with my sister about empathy and the fact that I used to sense other people’s feelings from a young age. But I didn’t understand it then, and because it was too overwhelming, I possibly pushed it down into my subconscious mind to alleviate the overwhelm. It felt like I was feeling other people’s pain or joy.



Use Your Imagination

Close your eyes and imagine what it’s like to be somebody else for a day. Put yourself in their shoes. Who are you thinking of? Could it be a famous celebrity? Or an old schoolteacher or a boss you don’t like? Now really think about who they are – their childhood, why they are who they are, and why they behave the way they do. How are you finding it? Difficult or easy? What did you learn?


Next time you meet someone, focus on the nuances of their body language.


What are the other person’s eyes saying?


Empathy is a skill that can be developed over time. Being empathic makes you more valuable as a human in a heart-centred way and makes you potentially more employable compared to robots!


Empathy influences the science of mind and behaviour – psychology. It’s what makes us a civilised collection of humans exhibiting kindness. For example, if you sense a child is frightened, you immediately comfort them by saying something reassuring: ‘The spider won’t hurt you, Jamie. It’s probably more scared of you than you are of it’ (unless it’s an Australian funnel-web spider, then no!).


Collective empathy helps our progression as a species. If we are not empathetic of fellow humans, then we can become too selfish and insular. Have you ever heard someone say ‘Ah, he’s only out for himself, nobody else’? This behaviour is counterproductive.


Empathy reduces fear, because once you feel what other people are feeling, you become more compassionate. Compassion causes a lowering of fear. You are now focused on helping to actively remove suffering from others. How can you be fearful if you are helping others? What is there to fear?


Did you know that ‘a specialised group of brain cells are responsible for compassion. These cells enable everyone to mirror emotions, to share another person’s pain, fear, or joy’. [2]

I am an empath. This means my mirror neurons are highly sensitive. I felt this as a young child; however, it was too powerful to deal with, so as a psychological defence mechanism, I blocked it out. I pushed this amazing gift I had down into the depths of my psyche. I practically denied myself of my gift for many years. It was part of me. It is me. I’ve truly accepted it now. ‘I am an empath.’ Who resonates with this? After many, many years of personal development, overcoming pain and suffering – mainly severe depression and being hospitalised four times for mental illness – I built a rock-solid foundation of super-strong mental health. Now I embrace my power of empathy. My mirror neurons are stronger than ever. When I meet someone for the first time, I literally feel what they’re feeling. Would you like to experience this? If yes, please keep reading.


Observe the Eyes

Next time you meet someone, take a moment to check what colour their eyes are. Why? The reason is that the two seconds it takes to do this allows time for you to really look into the other person’s eyes. What this will do is amazing. By checking to see what colour their eyes are, you’ve focused purely on them. They will sense this. They will automatically feel your focus and attention. Who doesn’t love attention? We are only human! Now enjoy that moment of connection when you both lock eyes for a moment. This is a basis for practising and building your empathy muscle.


Focus on Body Language

Notice two things about the other person’s body language. First, their eyes. What do they look like? Wide open and still, or slightly squinting and shifty? Looking at you or beyond you? Make a mental note of the results. Now move on to their body. What are their hands and arms doing? Are they crossed and closed off, or are they open and welcoming? By simply focusing on these areas for now, you will grow your empathy muscle. Your mirror neurons will build in strength, like an arm muscle after consistent bicep curls at the gym. Now go practise!

Neurons that fire together wire together. — Hebb’s Law

You are a human, yes? This means you have the capability for empathy. You’ll build a strong foundation of psychological tools. Once you practise this, you’ll be more valuable to the global marketplace. AI (artificial intelligence) and robots aren’t going anywhere, and they will act as potential competition for work, jobs, and industries. You’ll benefit psychologically and financially once you build your empathy muscle. Now go workout!


Thank you for reading.

Adam Bowcutt


Adapted from Confide: The New Psychology of Confidence. How to Power Up after Experiencing Depression (2019)


Please feel free to also read: Why Self-Leadership is Critical

References:

[1] Rosie McCall (2019)

[2] Judith Orloff (2017)

15 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All