Empathy can be defined as “the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.” (Dictionary.com) According to this definition empathy is an intellectual process, it is something that you can learn, but do we learn empathy? Or do we just become better and being empathetic? Is the natural desire to stop and help some one in need something that we are taught or is it something that is placed in each of us before birth?
Imagine this, you and a good friend have met a girl who needs help. It talking to her you have found out that she is 21, living with a friend, and has four kids from four different men. One day you and your good friend decide to go and visit this girl, upon arriving you can tell something is wrong and upon opening your conversation she tells you “Last night I tried to kill myself.” Everyone has been in this situation when a close friend or family member turns and asks for advice for some situation that you have no experience in. What do you do? From experience I can say that empathy in situation is not learned. Empathy comes from your gut feeling and the words of encouragement will come from the heart.
Empathy is something that people are born with but that does not mean that over the course of life that you can’t lose it. Like all abilities and emotions people are born with, people can choose either to master their abilities or choose to let them deteriorate.