Art by Jem
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It’s the foundation of healthy relationships, effective communication, and a more compassionate world. It’s also a cornerstone of our humanistic magickal philosophy. Whilst we use empathy in our magick through tarot and lenormand guidance and through our meditations, being empathetic means being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and it’s a useful skill for all areas of life, not just for magickal purposes. Luckily, most people can develop empathy with practise, and even grow this into magickal empathy. In this article, we’ll explore the power of empathy, why it’s important in humanistic magick, and how you can develop your own psychical empathic abilities, known as clairsentience, by building them up. From active listening to perspective-taking, we’ll share tips and strategies for cultivating empathy in your personal and professional life.
Why empathy is important
Empathy plays a crucial role in our lives, both personally and professionally. It allows us to connect with others on a deeper level, build trust, and create more meaningful relationships. Empathy is also essential for effective communication. When we’re able to understand others’ perspectives, we can communicate more clearly and avoid misunderstandings.
In addition, empathy helps us to be more compassionate and understanding. When we’re able to see things from someone else’s point of view, we’re more likely to be patient, forgiving, and kind. This can lead to more positive interactions and a happier, more fulfilling life.
For those that want to connect empathy with their magickal lives, empathy is incredibly important for working with others in tarot readings as well as working on spiritual growth. For us, empathy is part of our humanistic magick philosophy, so we are often pulling on our magickal empathy across all aspects of life.
The science behind empathy
Empathy isn’t just a vague concept – there’s actually a lot of science behind it. Although we’re not sciencey people, we do know that research has shown that empathy is related to our mirror neurons, which are connected to copying behaviours and allow us to understand experience in others as if the behaviours and actions were our own. This can also work for emotions. When we see someone else in pain, for example, our mirror neurons fire in response, causing us to feel empathy and compassion.
It’s also been found that empathy is related to various areas of the brain, including the prefrontal cortex and the anterior cingulate cortex. These regions are involved in emotion regulation, decision-making, and social cognition, all of which are important for empathetic behaviour.
Different types of empathy
There are several different types of empathy, each of which involves a slightly different skill set. The most commonly recognised types of empathy are cognitive empathy, emotional empathy, and compassionate empathy.
Cognitive empathy involves understanding someone else’s perspective without necessarily feeling their emotions. This is about imagining what it must feel like, rather than actually feeling it. This type of empathy is important for effective communication and conflict resolution, as it allows us to see things from another person’s point of view and allows the person to feel validated when they talk to us.
Emotional empathy, on the other hand, involves actually feeling someone else’s emotions. This type of empathy is important for building strong relationships and providing emotional support. It is in this space that clairsentience can develop in those who build on this type of empathy.
Finally, compassionate empathy involves not only feeling someone else’s emotions, but also taking action to help them. This type of empathy is important for making a positive difference in the world and helping those in need.
Techniques for developing empathy
If you’re looking to develop your empathetic skills, there are several techniques you can try. One of the most important is active listening. This means paying close attention to what someone else is saying, without interrupting or judging. Instead of working through what you will say next time there is a gap, try to focus on the person’s words, feelings and perspectives as they talk to you. It’s not an easy skill, but one that has a huge impact when practised.
Another helpful technique is perspective-taking. This involves trying to see things from someone else’s point of view, even if you don’t agree with them. This can help you to understand their motivations and feelings, and can lead to more productive conversations and interactions.
It’s also important to practise self-awareness. This means being aware of your own emotions and biases, and how they might be affecting the way you perceive others. By being more self-aware, you can avoid projecting your own feelings onto others and can be more open and receptive to their perspectives.
There are several exercises you can try to help develop your everyday empathetic skills. One good one is the “empathy circle,” in which a group of people take turns sharing their thoughts and feelings while the others listen without judgement. This can help to build trust and understanding within the group, and can also improve individual empathetic skills. You can try this one on one with a partner or a friend, or you can even try this on your own. Watch a TV show or listen to a podcast without judgement, and without letting your own mind wander off in response to what is being said.
Another helpful exercise to practise here is “mindful breathing.” This involves taking a few minutes to focus on your breath and clear your mind, which can help you to be more present and in tune with others’ emotions.
The role of empathy in leadership
Empathy is a crucial skill for effective leadership. When leaders are able to understand and connect with their team members, they’re more likely to inspire loyalty, motivation, and productivity. Empathetic leaders are also better equipped to handle conflicts and resolve issues, as they’re able to see things from multiple perspectives.
Empathy elsewhere in the workplace
Empathy is also important in the workplace more generally. When employees feel that their managers and colleagues understand and care about them, they’re more likely to be engaged, productive, and loyal. Empathy can also help to create a more positive work environment, with less conflict and more collaboration between people. This also extends to when those colleagues and employees interact with customers.
Empathy in personal relationships
Empathy is perhaps most important in our personal relationships. When we’re able to understand and share our loved ones’ emotions, we’re better able to support them through difficult times and celebrate their successes. Empathy also helps to build trust and intimacy, which are essential for healthy, fulfilling relationships.
Overcoming empathy barriers
While empathy is a powerful tool, there are several barriers that can prevent us from being empathetic. One of the biggest is bias, or judgement. When we have preconceived notions or prejudices about someone, it can be difficult to see things from their perspective. It’s important to be aware of our biases and to work to overcome them.
Another barrier is emotional burnout. When we’re constantly exposed to others’ emotions, it can be draining and overwhelming. It’s important to take care of ourselves and practice self-care, so that we can continue to be empathetic and compassionate.
The power of empathy beyond magick
Empathy is a powerful tool that can help us build better relationships, improve communication, and create a more compassionate world. By developing our empathetic skills, we can become better leaders, coworkers, friends, and partners. For those in magickal businesses, it also makes us better tarot readers and instructors. Whether you’re practising active listening, perspective-taking, or one of the many empathy exercises available, there are plenty of ways to cultivate empathy in your personal and professional life. So, if you’re ready to unlock the power of empathy, start practising today and remember by building on these everyday essential skills, you can take it to the next level from empathetic to empathic.
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