How Pets Can Foster the Growth of Empathy in Everyone

There are many benefits for welcoming pets into your family. One of the best benefits is that they build empathy in your kids and yourself. You may have noticed at times that a very young child is happy and comfortable – they treat animals with care and love.

But, if a child is upset or has feelings of anger or powerlessness s/he might treat the dog badly – chasing, kicking or simply harassing an animal. If a child has no empathy for animals, it’s doubtful that s/he is very empathetic of others in the family or in school.

You can show your children and other members of the family how to be empathetic to animals and gain some empathy yourself. Give children responsibilities for the pets in your home. Teach them how to brush the pet or to be sure they have food and water.

The time and effort your children take to care for their pets will help them realize how much of an impact they have on the pets’ lives. You can also teach your children to be assertive if you have dogs for pets.

Teaching children how to issue commands to train their dog helps them learn assertiveness and take pride in what they’ve accomplished. Even if you don’t have cats or dogs as pets, children can learn empathy with pets such as a goldfish, bird or turtle.

Pets tend to give unconditional love, and that’s important for children to experience. The pet becomes more of a friend – one that he can talk to and hang out with when others are unavailable. The pet won’t judge the child and will likely be sensitive to a child’s moods.

A pet teaches a child that it is a safe place for the child to share their emotions without judgement or fear of retribution. The child becomes more confident because he can work out his emotions by verbally pouring them out to his pet.

As the child realizes his role in taking care of a pet, he becomes more in tune with the animal’s needs. That responsibility and caring attitude will follow him into adulthood and make his more aware of others’ needs.

Your child is less apt to become a bully if he has the responsibility of a pet. Bullies tend to have very little empathy toward others, but when your child experiences comforting an animal that is ill or scared of thunder and rain, he learns how to feel empathy.

And, it isn’t only children who can benefit from having a pet to care for. Adults who grow up with very little empathy can learn to be empathetic and having a pet is one way to achieve it.

Pets are also comforting to those who have experienced stress or trauma in their lives – such as PTSD or other physical and emotional challenges. Empathy can be learned, and some of the best teachers have four legs.

How Emotional Intelligence Can Help You Find a Job

When searching for a job in today’s volatile job market, you’re probably in competition with others who could possibly know more about how to actually perform the job than you.

You may have put together the most incredible resume, touting all your skills, achievements and your basic intelligence. But, there’s one thing that may be missing from your resume that most employers are now looking for – emotional intelligence.

Even though your skills may be finely honed for the job you’re applying for, you may have missed one thing that employers are now looking and testing for – emotional competence.

When research was conducted a few years back, results showed that those employees who had higher IQs performed lower than those with average IQs. That caused employers to sit up and take notice.

As research continued, it was proven that emotional intelligence was the key to top performing employees. Employers began to use that factor to tip the scales when it comes to deciding between various job applicants.

Emotional intelligence is intangible and is something we all have to some degree. It helps us to understand ourselves – why we think and do things and to understand others and why they make certain decisions.

The skills we gather from pursuing emotional intelligence helps us to get in control of our emotions, time and teaches us how to relate to others’ emotions and the experiences that have made them who they are.

That skill turns into one that we can use to manage people – and companies are now aware of that. They are going to hire the person who is best at socializing, recognizing social cues and who shows empathy toward others – not the person who is emotionally low on the scale.

To begin your pursuit for emotional intelligence, you must first challenge yourself to find out what you truly want from life. Emotional intelligence can provide a clear understanding of why you are like you are and where you’re headed in life.

You’ll be better able to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses – a good skill to project to a future employer and one that shows you’re competent and understanding. You’ll no longer waste your time – or the interviewers’ time – interviewing for jobs that aren’t cut out for you.

Emotional intelligence can be a great tool during an interview. Depending on your skill level of emotional intelligence, you’ll be able to pick up on subtle nuances and clues of the interviewer and better understand how to continue.

The good news is that emotional intelligence can be learned and practiced. As you become more proficient in the skill you’ll be able to project yourself as a person who can effectively manage yourself and others. That will lead you to getting the job you want.

Emotional Intelligence Doesn’t Silence You – It Motivates You

You have the wrong idea about emotional intelligence if you think it’s meant to silence you and your emotions during anger or frustration. It’s the opposite – emotional intelligence motivates you to do something about the anger and frustration of a situation in a positive and intelligent manner.

Those who are blessed with emotional intelligence understand their own psychological makeup and are better at managing stress. They’re also less likely to suffer from depression and find it easy to form positive relationships.

Motivation is what helps you meet your goals, become fulfilled and to enjoy a great quality of life. It doesn’t matter what your IQ is – if you don’t have motivation to succeed, you won’t.

There is intrinsic type of motivation which means that you love what you’re doing and are motivated within to do the right thing or be more productive in your work. You can effectively overcome hurdles and challenges because of your belief system that is intrinsic to you.

Extrinsic motivation is when you’re driven by things happening around you to achieve success. Fear of losing your job, getting a raise or promotion and other outside factors keep you motivated to come to work each morning.

An external factor such as fear of retribution may also prevent you from losing your temper at a boss or spouse. You’d rather keep the peace than risk estrangement or losing your job.

No matter what keeps you motivated, it’s emotional intelligence that keeps you on track. You find ways other than violence or anger to control a situation and make it work to your satisfaction.

With emotional intelligence fosters enthusiasm in what you do, initiative to take action and persistence in getting the job done. The positive attitude that comes with emotional intelligence lets you work out issues without negative emotions based on knee-jerk reactions rather than well-thought-out plans.

Emotional intelligence also provides the energy you need to stay motivated. Unless you stay motivated – either at work or in relationships – you risk losing what you’ve worked so hard to build.

Motivation can’t be achieved by others telling us what to do in an enthusiastic manner. Your enthusiasm has to come from the inside – from a place of emotional intelligence. This is what gives your life meaning and purpose.

You will never truly find your real purpose in life unless you get to know yourself in a way that allows you to dig deeply into your psyche for answers. Not knowing who you are or what you want in life can render you silent.

Emotional intelligence comes from knowing exactly who you are and what you want. Without it you risk the downfall of your body and mind connection and the ability to achieve what you want in life.

Do You and Your Partner Have Enough Emotional Intelligence to Sustain a Marriage?

The business world is now using emotional intelligence testing in their job interviewing process to determine if a person has the ability to manage themselves and others. Now, the concept of how you can use emotional intelligence is permeating other areas – such as relationships and marriage.

How much better would your marriage be if you could understand your spouse’s emotions and react to them in a loving way rather than reacting badly when emotions are running high?

Emotional intelligence can help you unlock the relationship puzzle by giving you the tools needed to manage your emotions, read your spouse’s emotions and become accountable to yourself and your spouse.

There are signs in a relationship that it’s in trouble. If you feel emotionally disconnected from your spouse and are constantly angry, anxious or depressed and say things you realize you shouldn’t say and later regret, you may need to work on your emotional intelligence.

Sometimes, relationships are described as emotional rollercoasters – meaning that you’re disconnected from your own feelings and the feelings of your loved one. Emotional intelligence can help you move from being emotionally numb to emotionally balanced.

Using the tools that emotional intelligence offers can help you change the moods and attitudes that keep your relationship in jeopardy. You’ll be able to manage your anxiety and stress before it takes a toll and more able to connect wisely with your feelings and thinking process.

During the course of working on your emotional intelligence you’ll learn how to relieve stress quickly and completely. Being able to cope with the everyday stressors that come your way will enable you to stay focused and in control.

You’ll be able to effectively communicate with others to reduce conflict and overcome challenges that normally come when dealing with others. It’s a good skill to have – not only in relationships, but at work and other areas of socializing.

There are many factors that can ruin a marriage or relationship. Emotional intelligence tools can help you control the difficult emotions and thoughts that could destroy the ability to communicate with just a simple slip of the tongue.

You’ll learn how to shut down those intense emotions by focusing on other things. It will take dedication and practice, but soon you’ll be able to develop the capacity to hone in on your spouse’s feelings and understand the emotions involved.

Understanding exactly what is happening and why is a huge step in learning how to stay connected to your feelings and have the ability to remain calm during the stress that threatens your relationships.

Learning and practicing emotional intelligence techniques will help you follow through with all your hopes and dreams for your relationship rather than letting that connection you once had fall to the wayside.

Don’t Overanalyze in an Effort to Be Emotionally Intelligent

Realizing the importance of emotional intelligence to your overall success and happiness is important, but you don’t need to overanalyze what’s involved in taking your emotional intelligence to a higher level.

It’s simple, really. With every step you take to build your emotional intelligence, your self-awareness and self-confidence, you’ll notice that stress, anxiety and your ability to communicate is getting stronger.

You become more effective in your communication efforts and able to empathize with those you work with and those whom you enjoy relationships with. You’ll also notice that you are more effective in meeting goals for yourself and overcoming challenges.

Rather than overanalyzing your efforts toward emotional intelligence, simply let it unfold naturally. For example, make a mental note to yourself to listen and observe carefully when you’re in a meeting or having a conversation.

Pay close attention not only to the words being said, but the emotional inflections in the voice and body language. Look for meanings behind the words and if anger or conflict is involved, try to imagine the other person’s point of view.

Don’t try to overanalyze your own feelings of anger, confusion and other emotions. Instead, work on your natural ability to shut down the anger and other negative emotions by using the tools you gain in developing emotional intelligence.

When you overanalyze, the information you feed to yourself can get bungled and may not be true. With emotional intelligence skills you’ll be able to self-regulate your thoughts and emotions and know how to deal with the negative without over-thinking the process.

Over-analyzing might also put you on the wrong path of self-discovery. Revealing negative thoughts and emotions within yourself can be depressing or make you anxious in certain situations.

Have empathy for yourself as well as others and build on your emotional intelligence quota by finding new ways to deal with the negatives in your life. Soon, it will come to you naturally – but, it takes work and practice.

Managing your emotions can be a real struggle and when you overanalyze you may be missing out on being able to control them. Addictive behaviors begin by people not being able to control their emotions.

Those behaviors include addictions to gambling, food, computer games, mindless entertainment and compulsiveness to surf the net or use your cell phone. You’ll want to control your emotions by making rational decisions in a knee-jerk reaction method.

When you find yourself over analyzing your reactions to certain situations, take a step back and take a deep breath. Apply the stress relief methods you learn when practicing emotional intelligence.

With practice, you’ll be able to change the way your brain thinks and help you feel more comfortable being in control. You may have setbacks, but in time, you will reap the benefits that emotional intelligence can bring into your life.

Don’t Let Your Empathy Run Rampant

Empathy is a human trait admired by everyone. But, you should know the dangers of unchecked empathy that can get you in a world of trouble and give you a reputation that could haunt you in career and personal relationships.

Over-the-top empathizers risk being hurt by those who would take advantage of a person’s good nature. Empathy for a loved one can result in anger if you perceive that they’re being threatened by an outside force.

For example, if you have a child in school and s/he comes home crying one day because a teacher (or another student) treated her badly, your empathy for your son or daughter makes you angry at the person who hurt her feelings.

You might feel aggressive toward the person who hurt your child and have thoughts of hurting him or her. Emotional intelligence can help you turn those thoughts into another type of thinking process that leads you to settle the situation in a calm manner rather than letting your aggressive nature play out in the wrong way.

Empathy-based guilt can also cause problems in your life. You’ve likely heard of people who survive a catastrophe such as an airplane crash who can’t get over their feelings of guilt for having survived when others didn’t. That is empathy-based guilt.

Those who suffer from empathy-based guilt may go into deep depression that keeps them from being productive or responsive to their families. They’re so mired in grief and empathy toward others who didn’t survive that they may lose everything if they don’t seek help.

Too much empathy can destroy a relationship. Empathy in a relationship can have a negative effect if you can accurately tell if your partner is becoming bitter or seeking revenge in the relationship.

While feelings of love can help restore a relationship, feelings of empathy can eventually destroy it. You can also be manipulated because of empathy. Some people (psychopaths, especially) seek to take advantage of those who empathize with them.

Letting people take money or other type of help from you because you’re sensitive to their suffering could take a toll on your own life and those around you. Empathy can be a good thing – but only if you use your emotional intelligence along with it.

There are three types of empathy you may have – cognitive empathy, which is when you can put yourself in another’s situation and understand how they feel. Emotional empathy is when your emotions are similar to another person and you can actually feel what they are feeling.

Compassionate empathy is when you make the effort to help another person because you feel a need to respond. All types of empathy can be good and add meaning to your life unless you let it run rampant and become a negative impact in your own life.

Controlling Your Reactions Is a Top Sign of Emotional Intelligence

News reports about people with anger issues that turn into violence are commonplace today. Road rage, family disputes and workplace violence are all results of people not being able to control their emotions and letting them get out of control in a way that hurts others.

Most of us are able to curb those violent angry feelings, but the anger and uncontrollable reactions may turn into a loss of productivity and words that hurt the ones you love most – and possibly unable to repair.

Emotional intelligence is the power to control those bad reactions and even turn them into positive emotions. Releasing anger and frustration that can build up is necessary, but it must be done in a very mindful way or risk being out of control.

Reactions to situations don’t always result in violence or verbal abuse, but could also make you feel helpless and not in control of your life and what happens to you. For example, if you’re mired in debt, getting a call from a debtor may leave you in a distressed mood and unable to function positively.

Feeling disrespected by a loved one or boss may also bring out emotions that hurt and leave you feeling helpless to counteract others’ control over your life. Finding ways to control your emotions and not let others stress you out helps build your emotional intelligence.

Emotional self-control means that you’re managing the adverse emotions and can remain calm and in control even during stressful times. Without the anger and frustrated feelings you’ll be able to diffuse the direst of situations and stay calm and collected.

It may take time and practice to learn how to control your emotions and reactions using emotional intelligence techniques. The way you respond now is a habit that you’ll need to quash before it takes over your mind and emotions – causing a less than acceptable reaction.

Developing emotional and reactional self-control involves paying close attention to the signals you get from the brain. You’ll know when the destructive thoughts are beginning to form rather than be caught off-guard and have a knee jerk reaction that you won’t be proud of.

Mindfulness is the key to getting your emotions and reactions under control. When emotions like jealousy or anger threaten to get you in trouble, try some emotional intelligence calming techniques to calm yourself and take control

One method might be to count to ten – or take deep breaths until you feel calmer. Any good distraction method can work to calm you down until you’re in control. You might also try a coping mechanism such as trying to look at the situation from another perspective.

That helps you look at the situation more realistically and helps you turn it into a more positive direction. Working on your emotional intelligence is a good way to reverse lack of self-control and other destructive habits.

Can Empathy Be Learned?

Empathy is the ability to understand another’s point of view – to mentally put yourself in the other person’s shoes and know what they’re feeling and why they’re acting a certain way.

Although empathy is innate in humans, it is increased or decreased from life experiences. Traumatic experiences tend to have the most impact on the level of empathy from one person to another.

The environment you’re born into also has an effect on how much empathy you’ll have as an adult. The customs and thinking process of the culture you’re born into also impacts how you might view others.

A child’s behavior model(s) such as parents also shapes the capacity for empathy. Sometimes a very empathetic person can even feel the emotions that another person is having.

Empathy and sympathy are different – with empathy you understand another’s behavior or emotions on a deep level. Sympathy also helps you understand another’s circumstances, but you don’t feel deeply about it.

Empathy is definitely a skill that can be learned – but, just like being an artist, you must have some capacity to make it a skill that works for you. You can learn what it is, acquire the knowledge of how it’s used and even hone it to reach higher levels.

You must understand yourself before you can understand others. Having empathy for yourself is a prerequisite to having empathy for others. After you gain an understanding about why you think and feel the way you do, you can begin the quest to understand others.

Teaching yourself to be empathetic and understand others takes a huge commitment on your part and much practice. You can practice being empathetic by putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and thinking about why a person might be behaving or feeling a certain way.

Being able to communicate your empathy for others in a non-verbal manner is a higher level of empathy. It comes after the ability to demonstrate empathy. There are several ways you can increase your empathy for others.

Truly listening to people is one way. When you’re tuned in to what the other person is saying and note their non-verbal cues such as body language, you’re better able to communicate effectively.

It sounds simple, but when you smile at people, you’re releasing chemicals in the brain that make you feel good – and empathetic toward others. The person you’re smiling at can feel a connection with you.

Encouraging others is a great form of empathy and can be a great way to build a good relationship. Also, attempt to understand (empathize) with others who don’t share your belief system. Rather than attacking their beliefs, encourage them to share.

You can monitor your quest for empathy by periodically taking stock of your relationships with others – at work and in your personal life. Empathy can strengthen your relationships and help you achieve good things in your life.

Are You Tone Deaf or Empathetic?

Tone deaf literally means that a person can’t distinguish the difference in musical notes – but metaphorically, it means that a person is insensitive or un-empathetic to others emotions and feelings.

There is a mistaken assumption that happy, upbeat people are more sensitive and empathetic than others. They might have more confidence, but that doesn’t mean they can read people well and empathize with them.

The fact is that upbeat people can recognize emotions similar to their own, but sometimes lack the ability to empathize with those who are sad or downtrodden. When you’re being insensitive, you’re disregarding the appropriate behavior and going along with your own emotions.

For example, making fun of or saying something insensitive to a disabled person shows that you lack empathy for what the other person is going through. The more empathetic you are, the better able you will be to take into consideration other peoples’ emotions.

Insensitivity can ruin your reputation and relationship with others. You can learn to be more sensitive by learning how to be self-aware. Self-awareness is the first step to becoming a genuinely empathetic person.

When you’re self-aware you’re better able to grasp how the other person is feeling and how they might react to certain situations. You can teach yourself to become more self-aware by interacting with others about their emotions.

Realizing you’ve been insensitive to another person should make you want to practice being more empathetic. Try to place yourself in the position of the other person and think about how you would feel and react in the same predicament.

The old adage of walking a mile in another person’s shoes can help you tune in to the emotions of others. You can also practice empathy by being around others with opposite views than yours.

For example, consider attending a church service of another faith or befriending people who come from a different culture than you. Rather than ridicule them in your mind and think that you’re superior, find the goodness in the church or culture and imagine what it might be like for you to be in the same place.

As you begin to tune in to others’ emotions, you’ll begin to treat others as important and you will likely see the change in how others react to you. Rather than lumping people into a certain stereotypical group, take each person and get to know them individually.

You may be surprised that what you thought was a label that fits everyone in a group isn’t true at all. Every person has particular strengths and problems – many similar to yours.

Practice empathy to help yourself become less insensitive to others and to find out the world has much to offer rather than a narrow perspective of things.

Are You Being Objective with Your Empathy?

Objectivity means that you’re able to step out of your way of thinking and take into consideration another person’s point of view. It helps a person judge without being partial to his own views or external influences.

Empathy means that you also step out of your own viewpoint and consider the other person’s. With empathy, you can become so mired in the other person’s problems that you can’t see things clearly and can’t be objective in your attempt to help others.

With too much empathy, you can drown in another person’s emotions and be unable to help them. But, seeing a situation as another sees it is invaluable to building relationships, both at work and in personal situations.

You may wonder – especially when you’re angry – how a person doesn’t see things like you do. Your beliefs may be so strong that you can’t be objective. Building your ability to be empathetic you can put yourself in that person’s shoes and see how he could think the way he does.

It’s difficult to overcome feelings of empathy toward another – especially if you’ve had the same experiences. For example, veterans who return from war with PTSD and other types of trauma may have a problem being objective to those who agree with the other side.

Objectivity is hard to come by when you’ve been hurt or when your emotions run high about certain subjects. It’s a challenge to some to be objective and empathetic at the same time, but it’s a good trait to have.

You’ve probably heard of judges who have to recuse themselves from a case because they can’t be objective about it. Perhaps one of the parties was a relative of the judge – or the judge may have been traumatized over a similar incident.

Judges are trained to be objective, but sometimes it’s just not possible. Juries are also chosen based on their ability to be objective. They’re often asked if they have ever been in a similar situation as the person on trial, which might cause them to be too empathetic and unable to render an objective decision.

Some people consider objectivity the same as neutrality. It represents a true independence from the emotions a person might feel about a situation and what he knows to be the truth.

By using emotional intelligence, people can usually balance their ability to be objective with their ability to be empathetic. Since emotional intelligence helps us to be more self-aware, we’re better able to realize when our empathy is interfering with our empathy or emotions.

When you begin to feel empathetic about a person or a situation, take a moment to ask yourself if you can also be objective. That will help you make the best decisions possible.

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