The importance of empathy

I work in a children’s residential home, many of the young people I support have experienced family breakdowns, substance misuse and varying types of abuse amongst other issues, these are the predominant reasons they are now in our care.

I have been through alot in my 23 years of life, some of it good, some of it pretty terrible and these experiences have formed who I am today. I suffer from generalised anxiety disorder and depression but these do not define who I am, I’m sarcastic, kind, silly, smart, creative and at times funny, definitely mardy when I haven’t had a cup of tea and often sleepy from late night Netflix binges.

It’s easy to pigeon hole an individual into a particular category depending on their appearance, accent, wealth, health or personality. Often this is subconscious and I think perhaps a defence mechanism to protect ourselves from developing relationships that we don’t think will benefit us.

Before working with these young people I admit I was guilty of prejudice; before meeting them I read their files and automatically placed them in my mind into a certain group. If they had been involved in physical violence at school I assumed they’d be aggressive with a bad attitude. If they had self harmed regularly since the age of 6 I expected them to be withdrawn and wallowy. I have completely misjudged every single time.

If this job has taught me one thing, (and it’s taught me many) it’s that everyone has a different story; a different way of seeing things, a different relationship with the world, a different way of laughing, loving and living.

It can be difficult not to judge a book by it’s cover but it’s so beneficial to all of us when we don’t. Everyone has been through a struggle and all of our actions have an impact on someone’s life; so be kind, considerate and empathetic and treat others how you would like to be treated. If we all do this, the world will be a much  happier place.




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