Empathetic: [em-puh-thet-ik] adjective
1. the psychological identification with the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of others
Empathy is a wonderful part of friendship. It is only natural that when our friends understand us we feel loved and accepted by them. We as humans need that in our relationships. Finding that understanding in others and being able to understand them in return is brings us together.
As a youth, whenever I tried to express the feelings of my heart, a common reaction I would get would be laughter. I knew the laughter wasn't meant cruelly. I understood that I was lacking the proper vocabulary and tone to express my thoughts accurately. Gratefully I was not mocked for my humorous expressions but I was saddened that I was failing to be understood emotionally.
What I was searching for was empathy. I knew that others had similar thoughts and feelings, for they knew how to express them clearly, but without them understanding that I had them too, I felt a little left out. A few years later I was slow to recognize that I was in full clinical depression because I was already so familiar with the feelings that accompany it. I had already felt the loss of empathic understanding so it was a rather short leap from thoughts like No one cares to understand me and that makes me sad to If no one cares to understand me, do I even matter? Fortunately medicine, time and experience has worked their wonders and I am a much stronger person. Learning how to communicate through empathy has enriched my life and my relationships.
All human are built to be empathetic. Just hang around small children for a while if you don’t believe it. They will often break down and cry just because someone else is. Conversely when kids are happy and excited, other children will pick up on that and emulate that mood.
“From birth, infants pick up on emotional cues from others. Even very young infants look to caregivers to determine how to react to a given situation,” says Jennifer E. Lansford, PhD, a professor with the Social Science Research Institute and the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University. Empathy is something we are all born with. However, our empathy can grow if we will exercise it.
• Be self-aware. The more open you are to your own emotions, the more easily you will be attuned to the emotions and feelings of others.
• Observe body language. Often we can tell a lot by watching other people’s body language or non-verbal cues. Watch for facial expressions, hand motions, gestures and tone of voice.
• Be in tune to someone’s emotional truth. It’s more important how a person says something than by what they say. Studies have shown that 90 percent of the messages we receive from other people are nonverbal.
• Be a good listener. To be empathetic you have to really hear what the other person is telling you. To develop empathy, it’s important to have all the details. Give the other person a chance to express themselves and refrain from interrupting.
• Suspend judgement and disbelief. While listening is key to developing empathy, it’s also important not to judge what the person is telling you. It’s equally important not to offer tips or suggestions. When you want to fix someone else’s problem, then there’s a good chance you’re not empathetic. If you’re thinking about fixing the problem, you’re not in tuned to what they’re going through.
• Use reflection. While reflection is important in writing, it’s also an integral part of being a healer. This is in-line with Carl Rogers therapeutic practice by clarifying back to the person what they’re feeling. You might say something like, “It seems to me you’re saying that your feelings are hurt.”
• Put aside your own views and values. It’s important to do this so that you’re completely focused on the other person’s needs.
Empathy is a wonderful and necessary quality in our friendships and other relationships.
About this block: I did a raw edge appliqué on this block, but you can use any appliqué method you like! You can review some of the previous posts for videos and ideas on those. For the raw edge method (and this is just my way), cut your shapes exactly to the shape of the template. You will want to cut your stem smaller, as the size in the pattern is intended to be finished. I cut mine at a little less than 1/2". I use a spray basting product to adhere my pieces to the block since I don't want any fusible interfering with the way the edges fray. Then I carefully stitch about 1/8" from the raw edge. Don't backstitch, but do overlap your stitching (carefully) at the end. Then just enjoy the fluffy softness that will occur as you love and enjoy your quilt! Here's a close up of the block so you can see the stitching and finished product.
You can also visit my friend Katy Cameron and see this video that she made on machine appliqué! Having friends is just the BEST!