Empathy is a golden word. It indicates the extension of the sense of presence of a human being, beyond the limits of his individuality. When I have empathy, I also have the ability to feel how another person (or even more) feels.
Empathy refers to our emotional intelligence. It is generally the ability to be in someone else’s shoes, with whom I have a relationship, mainly it is the understanding of how the other feels emotionally and how he sees the world.
The word empathy comes from the ancient Greek word ”empatheia”, which means intense passion. In its current version, the word empathy implies something negative, a prejudice, and has reached this form through the Christian belief. This belief claims that passion is best to be avoided, because it does not help the soul.
We can make an important distinction about passion, based on emotion between two similar situations, empathy & identification. These are two different cases and work depending on whether the person has the ability to be psychologically separated in the relationships that already exist, especially with the important ones.
Described in scientific terms, as "separation & individuation" (Margaret Mahler). It appears & develops mainly between the 14th & 24th month after birth. Babies at this age strive to achieve independence in exploring the environment while maintaining closeness with their mother or caregiver. This process creates a crisis between the omnipotence and the abundance of the relationship with the mother, with the need for exploration. This is solved by the appearance of the language and the composition of the filter, through which one sees the world. When not resolved properly, then there is an increase in attachment or avoidance behaviors.
If as adults we have a feeling, when we are in a relationship with others, that something is missing, most probably this derives from our difficulty to separate psychologically ourselves from others. When we realize as an experience that we are two different beings with our own different ways of expressing ourselves, even if we talk or communicate about the same situation, we have succeeded in separating and not identifying ourselves.
If I choose my individuality and take things personally, my experience and perception of myself is different from becoming a real member of a wider human system. I observe and accept the feeling of helplessness that appears in the second situation.
Most people organize their lives around needs (family, friends, work, ambitions, etc.). It is quite rare for my life to be organized based on the power of life energy, with a balance of my needs, for healthy dependence and the existence of enough space for conscious exploration, for content within and beyond the narrow circle.
We are individuals who, as we separate and individuate the experience of life, we become members of humanity and dissolve in something greater.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN IDENTIFICATION & EMPATHY
IDENTIFICATION = Passion without the ability to separate, which leads us to empathy (negativity & prejudice). In other words I try to separate myself externally from others and actually break down as I subconsciously fail to separate. I am thus attached to them, or I avoid important ones in a vicious cycle of crisis.
EMPATHY = Passion and enthusiasm with the ability to separate, participation as a member & not as a person with passion & enthusiasm for inner and outer discovery. Healthy dependence on important ones is a sense of extension, for more substantial containment inside and outside myself.
WHY IS EMPATHY IMPORTANT?
Empathy refers to our emotional intelligence. It refers to the ability to be in someone else’s shoes and see things and situations as he sees them. That is, the ability to change the focal point in my consciousness. The capacity to see the other from within.
If I take for granted that my experience is a reflection of who I really am, then the empathy I have for the other, acquires the meaning of how he sees me, that is, how I look from the outside.
With empathy, it is suggested that I recognize my form, who am I and have the ability to consciously transform, depending on the situation of life and current adaptation. I am not a person, I am a member of a wider whole. I accept that I am losing my individuality in terms of something bigger, in a greater power. This is how I consciously change my experience. By empathy I become one with each other as a member of a binary system. In systemic empathy, I become a member of a group and can realize my diversity as a member of a larger whole, the group.
Conversely, if I do not have empathy, then I am in identification and what I usually perceive is an image I have of myself based on attachment, raw memories, feelings of the past, behavioral scenarios, etc.
Most people who act without empathy still find themselves in a cloudy landscape, where they do not recognize their limitations as human beings and seek to reproduce this early childhood mother care, with a sense of omnipotence and abundance. They live as individuals and not as members, they take things personally.
What happens then? They have a passion, but their passion does not transform them, it is more like an impulse rather than an enthusiasm.
THE EXAMPLE OF THE MIRROR
Suppose we have a mirror in our house and we see ourselves in it:
After thousands of uses, if this mirror remembers and displays 10% of our previous appearances each time, then it is not a good mirror.
Now we have another mirror and this time it reflects us perfectly. The moment we leave there is no more projection in his memory, because no memory needs to be left.
The whole process of relationships therefore changes perspective, thus, through the development of the ability to truly use empathy (the mirror).
The ability is created, to be able to control in this way the reality from both sides, my own and the other’s as my mirror.