Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

Empathy” is defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another and to show compassion to others.”

“One the best ways to express empathy is to show compassion daily to the people in your life.”

Stephen Lesavich, PhD

According to researchers, there are three different types of empathy: cognitive, emotional, and somatic.

Cognitive empathy is the ability to understand another person’s perspective.

Emotional empathy is the ability to feel another person’s emotions.

Somatic empathy is the ability to feel another person’s physical sensations.

Scientific research has also shown that when you feel empathy and show compassion, your heart rate slows down, your heart begins to open and your brain begins to secrete the hormone oxytocin.

“Many researchers have called oxytocin the ‘bonding hormone.’ “

Stephen Lesavich, PhD

Secretion of oxytocin activates the region of your brain that results in you wanting to approach and care for other people.

Oxytocin helps generate feelings of love, generosity and trust.

It is that generation of trust through release of oxytocin that inspired neuro-economist Paul Zak to call oxytocinthe moral molecule.”

Practicing empathy helps reduce suffering of others.


How do you practice empathy and show compassion to others who are suffering?

  1. Acknowledge Those Who are Suffering. A first step to practicing empathy and showing compassion is to acknowledge those people in your life who are currently suffering. Simply just witnessing the person, listening to why they are suffering without judgment, understanding their pain and confirming they are suffering and in pain will generate oxytocin in their body and in your body creating a personal bond between both of you. Put yourself in their shoes and trying to understand the suffering from their point of view. You can say things like, “I understand how you feel, I am sorry you are going through this, I feel your pain, etc.” to acknowledge those who are suffering.
  2. Open Your Heart To Connect with Those Who are Suffering. The practice of empathy and showing compassion also includes opening your heart space and connecting to others who are suffering. Connecting to others through your heart space allows you to feel your own emotions and the emotions of others from the inside out in every encounter and every interaction. To open your heart, share your own thoughts and your emotions with the those that are suffering. Also share your own thoughts and emotions about how you are suffering yourself. Connecting to others through your heart space creates another type of personal bond to those who are suffering.
  3. Take Positive Actions to Ease the Suffering of Others.  To practice empathy and live in a compassionate manner, you must take positive actions from your heart space and connect to others that you encounter in your daily life to ease their suffering.  The positive actions can be very small steps such as smiling at someone, checking in on someone, doing an errand for someone, buying some groceries for someone, completing a small chore for someone, saying a kind word, etc.. Taking positive actions also helps create personal bonds to those who are suffering.

Practicing empathy and showing compassion will create a positive impact in the lives of anyone you encounter who is suffering and create a positive impact in your life as well.

Out There on the Edge of Everything®…

Stephen Lesavich, PhD

Copyright © 2020, 2023 by Stephen Lesavich, PhD.  All rights reserved.

Certified solution-focused life coach and experienced business coach.