Perspective-taking is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand their point of view. It’s an essential component of emotional intelligence – the extent to which you can perceive and respond to other people’s feelings. Emotionally intelligent people tend to be highly self-aware, observant and empathetic. How can perspective-taking and emotional intelligence benefit your mental well-being?
What Is Empathy?
Empathy is a skill that enables people to imagine what others are going through. Humans are not the only animals that demonstrate empathy, which suggests there is an evolutionary benefit to this trait. Some researchers have uncovered evidence that “mirror neurons” in our brains influence our ability to empathize with others.
Some people are naturally more empathetic than others. Fortunately, empathy is a skill you can hone to improve your relationships with loved ones, friends and colleagues. Try these tactics to start working toward this goal.
- Practice active listening skills: What nonverbal cues can you pick up on when someone is talking to you? Give people your undivided attention when they’re speaking and stay emotionally attuned throughout the conversation. Do not interrupt or pass judgment. Ask questions to make sure you understand what the speaker has told you.
- Volunteer: Besides bringing a wealth of mental health benefits, volunteering is an excellent opportunity to develop empathy because it allows you to meet new people and make a difference in their lives. Being a volunteer empowers you to do something positive for people who might be struggling.
- Step outside your comfort zone: Meeting people from different cultures and walks of life is a vital part of developing empathy. Ask lots of questions to learn about their experiences and challenges. Be curious and open-minded to build relationships with people you wouldn’t ordinarily interact with.
- Meditate: Since meditation can put you in touch with your emotions, it stands to reason that it would make you more attuned to how people around you feel. Becoming more empathetic improves your compassion, which can have a spiritual component for many people. Try this 15-minute loving-kindness meditation to start this practice.
Emotional Intelligence and Making Amends
If you are in recovery from a substance use disorder, you probably know that two of the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous specifically focus on amends. Making amends is different from merely apologizing. It requires you to understand the harm you caused, take ownership of it and actively work to repair it. Perspective-taking and emotional intelligence are valuable here – to be sincere in your efforts, you must appreciate how your actions have affected other people.
Making amends in recovery will serve as a significant personal milestone, while reassuring the people you’ve hurt that you have changed your life for the better. It will also give you a greater sense of accountability to stay on track with your goals so you can avoid further damage to your relationships.
Believe in Yourself
At Vista Taos Renewal Center, we make it possible for men and women to make a full recovery from the disease of addiction and free themselves from the cycle of guilt and shame substance abuse causes. We offer accredited treatment through a complete continuum of care, from medically supervised detoxification through extended care. Contact us today to learn more about our holistic program options and amenities.