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What it means to "empathize" -post covid-

Updated: Sep 22, 2023

To all,

Thank you for riding on the raft with us as we tried to navigate our way safely through the storm of the Pandemic.

Our lives were changed. Society has changed. We enter a new post-pandemic world which is a very different one than the one we were familiar with, perhaps not on the surface, but what lies beneath are big changes to how we live and interact that will steer us towards new, unfamiliar and perhaps uncomfortable waters.

It is coded into our primal brains to survive, and the pandemic most assuredly caused this primal instinct to intensify and influence us all. The rise of individualism that has slowly been transforming our society got handed a boost of rocket fuel during the COVID-19 isolation. The global economic situation worsened, inflation went on the rise, societies were divided, families and friends were separated; we were all afraid. When we are afraid, our instinct is to protect ourselves, to put up a wall around us, and brace ourselves until the worst is over.

For many people, coming out of this protective shell is going to take time, a long time. We need to understand that. And so, helping each other to alleviate our fears needs to be a priority. I would say, ironically, more now than ever when we have the technology and, in many cases, the perceived desire to separate ourselves, we need the collective group, we need an ‘us’ not a ‘me’.

Empathy is hard. It really is. Critics will say that empathy is simply unrealistic because we cannot truly understand how others feel if we have not experienced the exact same hardships. Well, I disagree. Regardless of the cause, humans experience the same emotions. Naturally, and rightly so, we can point out that certain hardships are crueler than others, but the chemical reactions in the body that respond to pain, fear, worry and anxiety are the same. We may not share the same experiences, but we all share the same feelings.

Until recent times, the collective group was a necessity because survival demanded it, and we had no choice but to have empathy as our very lives depended on it. But the pandemic espoused just the opposite and we are still suffering the consequences. So, day-by-day, moment-by-moment, we must take the opportunities to open ourselves up to others, to accept the risks that interactions can bring because of the great rewards that this closeness gives us – a sense of belonging, safety, cooperation and trust.

When you can choose between anger or empathy, choose empathy.

When you can choose between selfishness or selflessness, choose selflessness.

When you can choose between telling or listening, choose to listen.

When you can choose between taking or giving, choose to give.

When you can choose between being discouraging and encouraging, choose to encourage.

“The nature of humanity, its essence, is to feel another's pain as one's own, and to act to take that pain away. There is a nobility in compassion, a beauty in empathy, a grace in forgiveness.”

(Quote by John Connolly)

Nicholas Yaxley

HR Officer and Cofounder

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