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  • Writer's picturePatricia Faust

Empathy - Closing the Gap Between Us and Them

Like resilience, empathy is a skill that can be honed and refined. In this time of social unrest, political upheaval, climate change, and economic challenges, people are being torn apart by contradictory viewpoints. COVID has brought all of these feelings of anger, intolerance, fear, stress and even empathy to the forefront. In that regard, there does seem to be a gender bias toward women. In all of the discussions about the outcomes we have experienced with COVID to this point, women appear to be far more concerned for their families and society around them. Men tend to look at the impact on business and financial recovery. These two different perspectives on the same problem begs the question – Are women biologically prone to empathizing more deeply and naturally, or is it a lifetime of social training that has led women to generally be more pro social as a natural response?

There are physiological differences between a man’s brain and a woman’s brain. Hormones override the processes of the brain. The hormone, Oxytocin, is found in higher levels in women than in men. Oxytocin can make people more empathic, while Testosterone, found in higher concentrations in men, can have the opposite effect. If you find yourself in a sparing match with someone, try to see their opinion through their eyes. Listen instead of thinking of a response. This intentional listening raises our consciousness and closes the gap between us and them. Once you have activated your neurobiology by sending messages to your brain to activate the neurons responsible for mirroring and empathizing with those around you, this will become an increasingly natural response.

What will become of our culture with all of these divisive splits? Will there be enough people to make efforts to close the empathy gap so that the future is kinder to all of us? We need to keep honing our empathy and resilience skills to make the future look brighter.

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