How to Develop Empathy?

Hi, I’m Angela, I have a husband with bipolar 2 disorder, my kids have ADHD, and I myself have struggled with depression—YOU’RE NOT ALONE! Last week we asked the question: Are Screens Stealing Our Empathy? If you missed that video be sure to check it out. This week’s mental health tips address: How to Develop Empathy.

Empathy involves stepping into someone else’s shoes and truly feeling with them. It takes vulnerability and risk to step into the suffering of another. Dietrich Bonhoeffer said that

“We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.”

How to Develop Empathy?

  1. Curiosity: I’ll never forget the time my daughter sat on the step in garage at 5 years old talking to our mechanic for hours. What was he doing? Did he like his job? Did he have any kids? What was that big thing he was taking out of the car? Luckily our mechanic didn’t mind talking to her, and she was able to satisfy her curiosity. Everyone knows that kids ask 1000 questions a day, but we don’t have stop asking questions as adults. In fact, curiosity-especially about strangers, will help cultivate empathy.
  2. Listening: Once we start being curious, we need to start listening. And we can’t listen if our attention is divided. If we want to increase our empathy we need to disconnect from our screens and connect in a meaningful way to the people around us.
  3. Pay Attention to the Non-Verbal: Daniel Goleman, author of Social Intelligence, writes that “the more sharply attentive we are, the more keenly we will sense another person’s inner state.” It’s so valuable to notice body language, eye contact, and facial expressions.

As people who follow Christ our motive for developing empathy is pretty simple, it’s to become more like Jesus. 1 John 2:6 tells us…


Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.1 John 2:6 (ESV)


What are your thoughts on empathy? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

And a big thank you Counselors:

  • Carrie Farrell
  • Esther Kim
  • Kristal Mathis

for consulting with me on this series and to His Heart Foundation for supporting this channel.

Connect to a counselor:

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Recommended Resources:

For more on Empathy:


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