Understanding Accurate Empathy: The Three Components

empathy Jun 16, 2022
 Understanding Accurate Empathy: The Three Components

At its core, empathy requires an understanding of three essential components. These components are: cognition (thoughts), affect (emotion), and perception (feelings).

Perception, for instance, is the ability to sense things through our senses. Although intangible, it is real. The wind, for example, can be felt but not seen. Similarly, when we feel an unexplainable connection to someone, it's like the invisible pull of a magnetic force.

However, empathy is not just about perception. Overemphasizing this component can lead to inaccurate empathizing due to neglecting the other components. Therefore, all three components need to be considered for optimal balance and impactful empathizing.

By training yourself to be sensitive to the relative "weight" of each component in any given moment, your empathic skills will improve significantly. This understanding can help to decrease the likelihood of invalidating someone and increase your ability to connect effectively.

Think of moments when you and your best friend were in sync. This is the result of optimal blending of cognitive, affective, and perception components. You can't see it happening, but you can sense and feel it - that's the connection.

In contrast, we all know the painful feeling of being misunderstood or invalidated by a friend or family member. By being aware of the three components actively in play moment by moment, we can significantly increase our ability to connect effectively and decrease the likelihood of invalidating someone.

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