Empathy, learn to use it to stave off loneliness

Empathy will save us from loneliness, and perhaps even from the pandemic. Being able to put yourself in the shoes of others, to literally feel what they feel is a quality that makes us human and that can prove to be a winning weapon against isolation. As shown by a study by the University of San Diego in California on seniors living in Assisted Healthcare Residences.

85 percent of the research participants reported feeling alone, but the extent of the perceived loneliness was very subjective even under the same conditions and social contacts. Those who had griefed, those who did not have sufficient socialization skills, and those who felt lacking in purpose in life felt the burden more. The ability to feel empathy was, on the contrary, protective of the bad thoughts associated with loneliness.

The elderly who, when they felt alone, reacted by taking care of others, trying to do something for someone whose discomfort they perceived, did not feel as unwell as those who turned in on themselves because they were unable to understand the suffering of others. The key to overcoming loneliness would therefore be to make an effort to pay attention to the needs of those close to us, whoever they are, because this trains and improves social skills and because the connection with others is the exact opposite of loneliness.

How to develop empathy

Empathy is certainly an innate ability that can be improved over time, to connect with others more deeply. It is possible to develop greater empathy even in people with autism. This disorder includes interaction deficits, reduced sharing of interests, emotions and feelings.

Scottish researcher David Jeffrey has provided doctors with some tips for engaging with their patients. Two suggestions are also particularly valid in everyday life.

1- Paying attention to how the other feels and practicing in assuming the perspective of others means, in effect, imagining that you are the other, taking his perspective totally, considering the specific context, personality and life of the other. that person.

2 – Meditation, together with creative writing and role-playing, is able to increase empathic abilities. Role-playing consists of playing the part of the person who is suffering, so as to understand them more deeply.

Empathic abilities can be increased by imagining the story of a real character. Therefore, following the protagonist’s events in person induces you to use a different point of view from your own. Meditation and mindfulness courses can be useful for developing greater contact with one’s own and others’ emotions in a non-judgmental way.