Empathy is a passive ability that borders on giving: we do not really work on our empathy but we become naturally empathetic, without really knowing why (for those who took the train on the move, click here to have a little reminder on what empathy is ).
For my part, I think I became very empathetic from the day I observed the people around me and that I had fun deciphering them: who are they, how are they dressed, where are they going, in what mood are they?
Little by little, as time went on, my natural empathy progressed. In some situations, empathy is a big defect: we feel things that we would rather not feel like an embarrassment, an uneasiness, a pinch in the heart seeing someone unhappy. But more generally, empathy makes it possible especially to better detect the lie, the anger, the boredom with its interlocutors. It’s very useful.
I propose this simple exercise to help you work on your empathy and boost your emotional feelings.
Decode the emotions of your surroundings easily through emotional transitions
It will allow you to unlock all your “emotional sensors” (understand the mechanisms that allow you to better feel the emotions of those around you) in a few minutes.
One can be empathic one day and on the contrary hyper-blocked emotionally the next day. I will schematize your emotional state by a tree branch: some days, the limb is flexible and light. You can absorb the emotions of your surroundings, feel them, synchronize and understand people. Other days, the branch is completely rigid – a real tree trunk. Your emotions are frozen and you have no empathic ability.
Your empathic state depends not only on your nervous tension (stress and anxiety of life) but also on the emotions you experience on a daily basis. To make your branch more flexible, you can play with your emotions by forcing them.
To force one’s emotions means to pass from one state to another in full consciousness. If you are happy today, try to get upset and get angry on your own. Try to make yourself sad and nostalgic. Try to make yourself sentimental or otherwise completely psycho-rigid. Forcing your emotions is like wanting to twist the tree branch to make it more flexible. The better you succeed in changing emotions, the better your empathic ability will improve.
To succeed in this exercise, everyone will have to find his method. I give you mine, I hope it will work for you. In addition to these explanations, I use a joker … which I will talk about below!
I repeat: the purpose of this exercise is to learn to change emotions “on demand”. It is a technique very used to unlock his empathy.
When I want to go into an angry emotional state, I naturally think of something very annoying. But that’s not all, I clench my fists and I block my breathing slightly to run out of air: we are more easily irritated by lack of air than when we can breathe deeply. I think of things that annoy me, then a violent way of calming me (beat me, get on someone, break something). For the occasion, my actions are abrupt, fast, I grumble. It sounds a little silly explained like that (or completely crazy), but the experience is exciting. You must not stop there.
If you managed to change your emotions once, keep going. Now that you are angry, calm down and try to switch on the joy. Anger excites, it’s a common point with joy. Get rid of the annoying thoughts of your mind by reminding yourself that this was just an exercise. Breathe deeply, stretch, look in the air, make soft gestures. The transition anger => joy is not the most complex.
You can now consider an emotional transition joy => nostalgia. This time, I have to tell you about the joker. The joker is the music! For each emotional transition, you can find music that will help you succeed. This is all the more important for the passage from joy to nostalgia that is not obvious. Think of pleasant things from the past (a date of love, a beautiful but long time, a Christmas family, a deceased person you have mourned). This passage to nostalgia may be the point of honor of this exercise. Changing emotions 3 times in a few minutes greatly eases your emotional state and allows you to be very empathetic.
I did this exercise before each stressful meeting when I was working. The problem of stress is that it turns your emotional state into a trunk so rigid that you feel nothing. That’s when stress takes over and you put your feet in the dish. Better than a massage or a yoga session, this exercise will literally transform you.
Empathy is an ability that many people would like to master. Unfortunately, empathy can also ruin life. In a future article, I will explain some methods to go the other way: to go from an empathic state to a psycho-rigid state. Many of you have asked me but I have never had the opportunity to explain it. See you soon!