Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Definition straight off Google. No shame.
Practically every sane human being has empathy, at least a certain degree of it. You have to admit, you know you only tell a few of your friends your biggest secrets/weaknesses. It isn’t hard to understand why this is; it’s because you know they are better at empathizing with you.
Empathy isn’t just inherited, however. Unless you are clinically psychopathic, seriously, than you have the ability to empathize with your peers. So, when it boils down to it, you have to practice it. If you wanna be a caring person, that is. And it may sound confusing, the idea of “practicing empathy”. How do you do it? Practicing empathy is done by self regulation.
Self regulation, a term coined by myself (kinda), is teaching yourself to not react a certain way to a situation. Suppose a friend blows you off, when you readily wanted to hangout. They just didn’t respond, rudely. Now, the gut instinct reaction here is to get angry or upset with them. Okay, that is natural. However, some people let it get to them way too much, and justify it by the fact they were wronged. OKAY- fair, you were wronged. However, you don’t always know why; and the empathetic thing to practice here would be to learn to just internalize the emotion and move on. It may take 2,3,10 times before you get it down- but that is why it is called practice. Another example would be getting mad at your dog for using your rug as a toilet. Again, instinct is to be upset, and maybe you feel obligated to yell at the dog to train it to know better. However, empathy here would be understanding that had you taken your dog outside, it likely wouldn’t have done what it did. Not always the case, I understand, but empathy is seeing the situation from all angles or at least trying to.
That is my personal practice. As a kid, I was naturally empathetic, like many people, however I constantly let my own feelings get in the way in these opportunities for empathy. So, this is what I do. Empathy is trying to see situations from both perspectives, no matter how fucking hard it may be. I don’t have sympathy for those who constantly let their anger get the better of them, without even showing effort to slow it or stop it. Everyone is reactionary, okay, not just you- some have greater difficulty than others, but if you aren’t even trying to manage, you are not getting my sympathy. As a kid, I had always been sensitive and even described as “angry”. Anybody reading this now may have trouble believing this. I have changed in my life. I am now more oft described as somber or calm. Even boring at times. I don’t really care.
The reason I bring this up is because lately I have realized how much of a difference an empathetic person makes. My family is great, especially my mom. They care so much for me, and seem to understand me better than I even understand myself at times. I wonder what it would be like that if everyone taught themselves to be like that.
I’ll end this post with a motivational quote of my own creation.
No matter how bad you have it, there will always be someone who is going through the same stuff, if not worse, as you are.
Thanks for reading
Luca DeJesu, 4:25pm