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Thoughts on Empathy

I realize I haven’t posted in quite a while and any “10 Tips for Succesful Bloggers” will tell you that basically I’m a failure at this blogging “business.” I’m coming to realize a lot about myself and one of those things is that I wanted to start a blog to get the feelings out of my head and share my triumphs and struggles, in all areas of my life, with anyone who may stumble upon them and find a glimmer of hope or meaning within them. The get rich quick theme that is taking over blogs made me turn away from the concept entirely until recently. Yet here I am, with things on my mind and thoughts to purge. I digress…

Thoughts for today;

Being an empathic person is mentally exhausting. Not because I feel I’m somehow doing more than others are mentally, but because I feel like I possess a flawed emotional switch that is always flicked to ‘on.’ Now you may picture some weepy, erratic behavior from that analogy but that’s not my reality at all. No, I experience the emotion but shove it deep down and act “normal” until it bubbles over and comes out as a stress-induced anxiety attack. 

I’m learning this may stem from my innate ability to over analyze everything, even things that really don’t need to be analyzed by me, or sometimes by anybody. I can easily put myself in another’s shoes to the point of physical anxiety symptoms. I worry about other people’s health, well being, safety, happiness, the list continues on until eventually the only thing I can feel is dread because I can’t change others and I can’t protect the world. 

Then, I shut people out and attempt to shut off the ‘switch’ by means of escapism. It’s better not to feel those emotions because if I do, I could open myself up to a world of hurt and that sounds awful. Am I right? So I avoid making meaningful friendships because that requires vulnerability. I avoid being my best self because I’m afraid of feeling the human emotions that come with life. And with that I avoid my full potential, therefore inhibiting my own growth. Sounds about right.

I think the final and most important aspect of being empathetic is to feel what others feel without bringing it upon myself, and to then turn around and find a way to use this knowledge to better us all. It’s the hard step which is why I haven’t figured it out yet. I drag myself into it, which helps no one. 

I think in many instances the step is something as simple as showing up every time and listening, without interjecting my thoughts or opinions. That’s hard for someone whose mind doesn’t switch off and my ADHD makes me annoyingly interrupt people even though I hate it. 

My goal is to acknowledge this and work on being present for others instead of bringing my baggage to join them. My experiences and my opinions have no place in a moment of empathy. No idea how I’ll turn my mind off more often… I’ll look to prayer to ease my mind. 

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