Empathy is an important ingredient in learning greater self-control for individuals who have anger management problems. Empathy is the ability to identify with others through understanding how they feel. It is increased by better understanding the thoughts, attitudes and overall experience of other people.
Emotional intelligence increases the ability to understand the experiences and feelings of others and to use this information to interact more appropriately with them. Becoming more aware of one’s own feelings (through increasing emotional intelligence) also helps one become more aware of the feelings of others. Self-awareness helps us to empathize with the feelings of others.
Empathy for others helps us make more appropriate decisions about how we will view others and treat them. Empathy also helps us evaluate the motivations of others in a more realistic light. Consequently, this type of information can be used to adjust our own perceptions and to make better, more socially-informed choices about our own behavior.
Understanding others better can dramatically decrease conflict and the perception of threat from others. In this way, empathy helps to make sense of others’ behavior so that their experiences do not have to trigger an angry response in ourselves. With greater empathy, communication improves and interactions have less conflict.
Learning and practicing greater empathy for others helps increase awareness of the emotional cues others give us during interactions. Empathy helps us ‘read’ another person’s expressions and communication with a greater understanding of that person’s experience and motivations. With better information about the other person, we are then able to make more informed choices about how we will respond to them. Empathy helps us perceive and use emotional information so we can then reduce the stress of daily interactions. Empathy helps us be less defensive; more in tune with what is actually being communicated by others and less stressed by any misinterpretations we may make. Empathy also ‘allows’ others to make mistakes and we are less apt to respond defensively, take things personally or ‘hold grudges’ when mistakes are made.
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