Good day everyone!!
Hope you’re doing good over there, remember to take care of your health! Your health is the foundation of anything else you would like to reach in life, becoming sick because of the seasons changing or feeling down because bad sleeping habits prevent your brain from dealing with the this and thats of life are really not favourable for any of us. Take care!
Today I would like to talk a little bit about empathy.
Over the years that I have been living, which haven’t been as many but I presume about the same, if not a little, more than the majority of my Youtaite/Utaite audience, I have realised that something I sometimes struggle with is empathy.
When you are using your computer as a means of communicating with your friends all over the world, when you are watching the news, when people tell you things that don’t necessarily interest you, etc… empathy can be a struggle.
I used to believe I lacked empathy, that something was fundamentally wrong with me when I watch the news and hear about something terrible, but don’t feel much for it because it all seems like some kind of far away television show. When I see people in a bad shape and don’t feel much for them. Was I lacking empathy? Was something wrong with my brain or heart?
I came to the conclusion that, that is not the case.
In fact, I believe I am actually quite an empathic person, but that I oftentimes struggle with dealing with that feeling. Why? Because it exhausts me. So, I consciously and also unconsciously started to block out things that could weigh on me.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually believe that this is a very important skill to have because otherwise everything would bring us down. The problem, however, was that I did not know how to deal with it when I pushed things away that did matter a lot and that it came to bite me in the behind. I am often called fastidious and that might really be true, especially when it comes to what I think I should feel and do. I have a certain image in my mind about myself and push myself to act accordingly. I feel cognitive dissonance when I can not help certain aspects in life, even though I think I should feel for them, which in turn exhausts me, so instead I decided to block them all out to preserve myself. Even things that really did matter and that I could change.
Feeling down is something no one likes, feeling down because someone else is feeling bad almost feels like you got infected by some contagious negative vibe. Tumblr and all those kind of places tell us to prioritise our own feelings over everyone else’s, because it presumes we only care about everyone else and never about ourselves and that this is the source of our stress and struggles. This is, however, strange advice because if we do so, won’t we become people that don’t care at all?
It’s all about me, me, me is not the kind of person I want to be.
The key is to balance this feeling out. Prioritise and open up. It’s easier said than done, but that is something I am also still learning to do because I believe there is value in doing so for the people around me which in turn will create value for myself.
When you feel for your friends misfortune it’s easy to fall together with them in a loop of sadness and/or anger. The idea is to learn to accept that this will happen and then deal with it. “Deal with it” is not some buzz-sentence that means “do something, I don’t know what, just get it done.” By “deal with it” I mean that you are actively searching for a way to help by accepting the truth of the situation and then processing it to flip it around again.
When we look at paintings from a distance they look magnificent and amazing, it is when we start to look up close and dissect everything to how it “should be” that we lose the capability to enjoy it for what it is. This is the same for when we look at ourselves and what happens around us.
I know every psychologist and consultant/friend you have will say so and that it is all easier said than done, but that does not mean you should give up on it and declare it a mission impossible. Processing is what we fail to do because it requires us to think about a problem which might stress us out if we believe it is hard/impossible to solve and then we shove it aside “we can’t help it.” Instead, we should focus on breaking the problem apart into manageable pieces, to look at it from different angles and to ask ourselves questions about what we can do. We should also believe that we can. My post about motivation has this as an essential step. It is important to believe we can do something. It is important to look at the problem, to break it apart so we won’t tackle a huge load and set ourselves up for failure and uncertainty.
Believe it or not, my dog’s puppy classes taught me that one. Don’t ask your dog to do a backflip from the get-go. Don’t put it in a stressful environment and get mad when simple commands like “sit” do not seem to work. Train in a calm environment and slowly build external noise up so your pup gets used to it and you will be surprised with all the things he is capable of!!
What I felt compelled to share with you today is to not push everything and everyone to a corner in your mind, because those things will only add to your stress. Open up, let it in, try to process it as far as you can and look for ways to deal with them.
I cannot end the world hunger, but I can do things like, buy consciously when I go into the food aisle. Even if this sounds like you’re just trying to “make yourself feel like a better person” then what gives? That is also part of empathy. It’s alright to “make yourself feel like a better person” because when you take steps to help someone, you are in fact trying to be a better person which brings satisfaction because we are social creatures that function that way. That’s not wrong, it’s actually super-good! It means you acknowledge you did something for someone, that is being empathic. That’s why it’s such a great thing to help each other out. It’s full of mutual benefits and a way of sharing experiences and feeling like part of a system/group you belong in.
Moderation is the key for everything.
Now, my example of world hunger is maybe a far stretch. It is not something you can change in a day, but your friend feeling stressed, your mother feeling irritated, etc… are things you can definitely deal with by talking things over and actively looking for a solution.
It is okay to block out certain things, you cannot shoulder the world. But I sincerely believe that if we all open up just a little to the things we know are important to us, that we will be able to create a better environment for ourselves as well. We can not shoulder the world alone, but if we all stand around the edges, count to three and lift it together, we might be able to manage in carrying it to a place we want it to be in. This is why I believe that politicians like Trump do not fit in this kind of society where tolerance and empathy are essential to change anything at all.
Remember that super-cool anime that was basically talking about the concept of “karma?” Yeah, full metal Alchemist, that one. It taught me about the concept of “equivalent exchange”. I sincerely believe that this concept is applicable to life in general.
When you reject an entire group of people, like Trump suggested with his Mexican wall, they will also reject you. How does that benefit either of you? Not to go into politics, but it just happens to fall in this topic. Think about it if you don’t agree already haha.
There is no way to measure how much you help someone with small actions. It’s not like a set currency. Even if not everyone will respond in the way you expect, you can still walk away with the feeling you did something right, something small that can at least affect your direct environment and the people that matter in your life. Expectations is something we can’t help to have, that’s alright. I believe being a “good person” also means that when you do something for someone and they fail to respond in the way you imagined, that you are able to let go of the disappointment you feel and recognise you did something good for someone because you want to be good to them.
I’m empathic, a little too much. Things that seem far away get me down, words hurt me and other people’s woes and the state of the world does too. But what good is there in blocking it all out and become a boring adult? I want to stay curious, I want to see the magic in everything and everyone and I will do my best to achieve that as well as I can. It might be idealistic, difficult and not always possible. Call me naive if you will, but having faith in something bigger, call it God or just the good of people, is what moves people forward in the harshest moments. My goal is to be a certain type of person, someone who is good to others. So even if it is hard, I get frustrated and I can’t always act the way I wish to, I will do my best and keep it in mind.
How about you?
How have you helped someone you didn’t necessarily know or didn’t know you would get any special gain from recently? From putting a spider outside instead of killing it to standing up for an old lady on public transport. There are tons of small things we do because we feel it is right and because we feel a certain form of empathy for another living being and/or situation.
It’s alright to boast!
You can certainly be proud of yourself. Being humble is something I value in people, but if you know you did well bragging in a positive manner is completely okay! (don’t forget the moderation part though haha.)
Please do share that good feeling!! When you share you can inspire!
I would love to hear from you!!