Cited in Empowher, – How Being Selfless Can Impact Your Mental Health

empowherHow Being Selfless Can Impact Your Mental Health, by  Rheyanne Weaver.

Alicia Clark, a licensed clinical psychologist, said in an email that she defines altruism and selflessness as a “capacity for empathy.”

“Empathy is the capacity to understand another’s experience and convey that understanding in a way that makes a person feel understood,” Clark said. “It is a fundamental communication skill that helps deepen communication, understanding and bonding.”

She said that being selfless can improve mental health.

“Research shows that thinking about others can actually help people feel better,” Clark said.

“We don’t quite know why this is, but in my work it appears that thinking about others can offer a welcome reprieve from internal suffering, and can help stretch people out of their symptoms in a way that is empowering.”

For people who are suffering from mental health issues, thinking of others can be much more difficult.

“Anxiety has a way of making people a bit myopic in their thinking, and preoccupied with the events happening in their life,” Clark said. “It can feel hard to think of others when things feel so hard internally.”


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Alicia H. Clark, PsyD