So how do we know when we are being empathic? One way is to check it out. Asking for acknowledgement is one way to know what someone is feeling. Another way is to pay attention or own up to what we see or think we see. When we are paying attention to what someone is saying it is a way to pay attention to ourselves.
You might feel that no-one at work quite understands how you are feeling. Men need to off-load too. Some find it difficult to ask for help, especially with emotional issues, but please do, find someone you feel comfortable with (a friend, a relative or a professional) and let go, it will be a great relief.
Couples are frequently talking about entirely different events while discussing the same event. Or they will identify qualities within a person like "She was so angry with me" and as I was sitting right there I could see that it was not happening that way. Allowing for my own warped sense of reality I am often amazed at those inconsistencies within an interaction between seemingly rational people.
I was brought up in an agnostic house- my parents were not particularly interested in religion and made it plain to us three children that we could do whatever we wanted. In a sense I am grateful to my parents who both came from relatively liberal families and were not that ingrained with God and the rest.
Next time you are cut off in traffic, you might imagine that the person in front of you has fears, hopes, regrets, and dreams just like you. If you allow yourself to feel the complexity and depth of this person's humanity for just a moment, you might find that the drive is just a bit more enjoyable.
I've processed everything through the till as I was trained to do. I counted the change out twice. It is absolutely unknown to me what this man seems to be having a problem with and yet he decides to stand there, a heaving queue behind him, and mocks me for a further five minutes in a moment that was truly overwhelming. It's only my first day.
I had always thought I could never be a great doctor because I felt too emotionally bound to my patients. It was impossible for me to hold back tears when feeling that gut wrenching empathy for families mourning the passing of their loved ones. Because it always seemed as if I were the only resident moved by these scenes, I reasoned that this was an unprofessional impulse.
I don't think anyone seriously denies that welfare reform of some sort is necessary, whether to reduce waste and fraud, to re-establish proper incentive for the unemployed to look for work, or to help restore order to public finances. Around these basic points there's consensus. The question is, however, reforms at what cost, and to whom?
Empathy can be expressed on a spectrum, and how a child responds to a given situation may depend on a range of different complex psychological and child development issues. For example a child on the autistic spectrum may not recognise that their online actions or behaviour may come across as inappropriately blunt.
As the Dalai Lama shares his message of dialogue and compassion in the UK in the coming days, we might find ourselves wondering whether a compassionate outlook can really be a driving force in our political, economic and social institutions.