When we are closed up, we don’t see the whole picture. Our world can feel small and we can go from solving problems to solving the next problem. 

If we can change our perspective to include empathy, we can often change our perspective on our own life as well as those around us. Instead of going from problem to problem, we are able to be proactive and see the whole picture. We can address situations and usually find solutions or answers that lead to additional ideas and insights. 

In Kirsten Klug’s Healthy & Fun Choices® workshop she teaches children through a hands-on activity called Paper People, which offers ideas and conversations around what happens when we are closed up or negative on everything; or open and more positive in seeing options. 

Through the workshop the Paper People get set to the side during other activities and in the end of the workshop students get to see what can change and what the Paper People saw. They discover how the open person and the one with empathy could create change and that in order for the closed person to change and fully experience life, it had to open up. 

Here are some ideas on how you can be more empathetic and open up to what is going on around you:

Be observant. If you approach someone who is upset or frustrated, try to “put yourself in their shoes” first. What happened? Why do they feel upset? What does their pain feel like? Instead of brushing it off like it’s just a little scrape or that a conversation didn’t go in the direction they wanted and they can move on, try to see it from their perspective. Were they trying to do something important before the scrape? Could they be upset by what happened more than hurt?  What does it look like if you had gone through what they had gone through? Once you are able to see it from where they are, you will be more likely to help them get through it and move on.

Start a conversation. By assuming and getting frustrated or moving on and not fully understanding, you can cause more harm than good. It is suggested that you start a conversation by stating the obvious. For instance, you find someone who scraped their knee. You could say “it looks like you scraped your knee, how did that happen?” They will typically tell you and then you can talk through it. By giving them your undivided attention, you will be able to better assess the situation and get bandaids or the help that is needed.

Be a good example of an empathetic person. When you are empathetic, the person you help will learn how it feels to have someone on their side and listening to them. You set a good example for them and often this characteristic is passed on and on. It is such an important part of life at home and in a career.

For an interview, click here as we discuss even more about Empahty: https://vimeo.com/491467890