Empathy describes a person’s ability to understand someone else’s point of view and see their perspective. Empathy is important because it allows us to feel patience for the people we love through understanding during difficult times. It helps us keep friends by not over reacting. Empathy can be taught and learned.
One thing to do is think of the big picture. Not just how something affects you but how things can also affect others. How your actions might affect your friends. That’s a good step.
Next step is to be aware of the excuses you make for yourself when you do things others might not like. If those excuses are valid for you than those same excuses and reasons are valid for the people around you.
Consider your friends and families schedule not just yours. How much time do they have? Do you expect them to always be around. Would you except that behavior from them.
Consider what others might be going through. Even strangers. Maybe that person going slow just found out his cars transmission is going but he still has to make it home. Maybe the person speeding is late for his best friends wedding. And no these things obviously aren’t your fault but we as people can ease difficult situations by changing our reactions and perspective to be more patient.
Empathy isn’t just to benefit those reaceiving it. It benefits you too. It helps you connect with other humans while leading calmer and stress free lives by just excusing certain behavior. Not all behavior mind you but sometimes we take everything personal and jump to false conclusions.
Maybe that friend really is busy. Maybe that stranger really is just having a bad day. Maybe that person wasn’t ignoring you they just had somewhere important they needed to be. You really just don’t know. So give them the benefit of the doubt every once in a while. Don’t be used but be aware that they are human too after all. Just like you.
I’m an aspiring cognitive therapist that currently works as a child care provider.