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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, your level of empathy can also be assessed with an Empathy Quotient (EQ).
Take the following quiz adapted from The Empath’s Survival Guide to determine your EQ:
What is Your Empathy Quotient (EQ)?
- Are you sensitive to others, care about them, and want to help?
- Do you listen with your heart not just your head?
- Can you hold space for others to express their emotions?
- Can you listen without needing to fix someone’s problem immediately?
- Are you capable of the give and take of intimate relationships?
- Are you intuitive and sensitive to other’s needs?
- Do you care about the greater good, and the wellbeing of Earth?
- If you answered “yes” to six to seven questions you have an extremely high empathy quotient
- Responding “yes” to four to five questions you have a high EQ
- Responding “yes” to two to three questions you have a moderate EQ
- Responding “yes” to zero to one question you have a low EQ and are ready to start to develop your empathy.
How to Develop Empathy
If you have a lower EQ, 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 your EQ is high, you might be prone to empathy overload. To avoid this, 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 EQ 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. More information and protection strategies in my book “The Empath’s Survival Guide” and “The Empath’s Survival Guide” online course.
Adapted from ”The Empath’s Survival Guide: Life Strategies for Sensitive People” by Judith Orloff, MD a guidebook for empaths and all caring people who want to keep their hearts open in an often-insensitive world.
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