Empathy is communicating that incredibly healing message of “You are not alone.”
Throughout our lives we are presented with many opportunities to empathize with others. But for those on the autism spectrum, it is often difficult to understand these complex emotions and social behaviors. At SEEDs, we encourage our participants to look outside themselves and think about others, their community and the world around them. How can I help? What can I do to connect with the people I interact with? We asked SEEDs participants to share how they demonstrate empathy in their own lives.
Empathy is when one feels the same emotions that other people feel in a situation; this is important because it demonstrates a genuine connection to others.
I felt empathy when I watched the Disney 2018 film “Christopher Robin”. I cried when the adult Christopher was reunited with his childhood playmates after so many years apart. This was because I fondly remember the innocence of my early youth; a youth that I seem to never have entirely, yet has greatly diminished over time
Empathy to me means hearing of a feeling someone has and you remembering having that exact feeling. Many times the emotion of the other person you have empathy for had somewhat of a same situation for what the other person is feeling.
It is important to have empathy because sympathy does not go far enough. It’s like having sympathy for homeless children you see in a charity commercial. You may feel sympathy for the children. But you’re not willing to give money to charity. Empathy is giving money to the homeless children not because you had a similar situation but because you have or had the same feeling the children had. Like feeling alone for example.
Last time I felt empathy was when I was at my job at Fry’s. Some of the cashiers were complaining about a new courtesy clerk. They said he made the bags too heavy and you could tell they were annoyed. However I felt empathy because I had a hard time at first being a courtesy clerk and did things wrong or not the way they should have been. Mainly I think it was not being fast enough bagging the groceries.
What I want to do now is if he needs help I can tell him what groceries go where and tell him not to worry because it takes practice and also which cashiers to look out for who are not the friendliest.
Empathy, oh if only we can understand it. Sometimes, it’s good to share our feelings with another’s, other times it’s too hard to relate to one’s emotions.
One example would be when we witness someone having a meltdown out in public, it’s hard to understand why he or she is feeling that way. Maybe they had a bad day or have a mental illness. You might never know. To me, the best way to deal with such issues is to walk away and avoid them as much as possible. Arguing with them only leads to more anger.
Another example would be if you feel sorry for someone who lost someone dear to them. You would feel sad too if you’d lost a loved one of your own. This can be very relatable to anyone.
Empathy is an emotional feeling towards others in many forms. It’s something that we must endure in our everyday lives. Otherwise, we lose our cool and become self-centered. So go out there and care for someone who might share how you feel.
This article was featured in an issue of the SEEDs for Autism Newsletter. If you would like to subscribe and hear more stories from SEEDs participants, please visit our website. Thank you!