Empathy

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A friend on Facebook created an event, a day to be positive.  The idea came from the realization that there is so much negativity in our posts on social media and it would be nice to spend an entire day only spreading positivity.

When I saw the event in my timeline, I have to admit that my first reaction was that I don’t think I can go a whole day without posting something negative, especially with how angry I am about current events.  I’ve been venting on the internet.  Reading like-minded rants. Feeling disheartened by many posts I am seeing with opposing views.

My husband and I were talking about my current struggles with depression and how so many of the bad things going on in the world are feeding the negativity monster that lives inside me.  It struck me that my tendency to empathize compels me to immerse myself in the middle of these horrible things I read about, trying to feel what the people involved are feeling and understand the thinking.

My empathy is, as Adrian Monk would say, “a gift and a curse”.

Empathy is necessary but sadly lacking in much of society.  Our leaders especially these days seem to be utterly incapable of empathy toward those who are suffering.  Without empathy you can’t understand what another person is going through and that makes it difficult to help.  And we all need to be helpful to one another and shoulder the burden somewhat.  But it can be soul crushing to feel so deeply for another’s burden.

When I think about it though, I much prefer knowing the gift of empathy over not feeling it at all.  But I do need to figure out a way to compartmentalize the hurt, anger, and fear I may feel for others and stay in my own setting and feel the magnitude of goodness that surrounds me.

Because there is much goodness.  Even if sometimes it is in the shadow of badness and you have to find it.

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Comments

  1. I do agree that we as a society lack empathy. Interestingly enough, like you, I think I have an overabundance of it – and while it does’t feed my “negativity monster” per se, I have from time to time, made excuses for people who have treated me poorly, because I can empathize with what has motivated them to act in selfish or inconsiderate ways. It’s a blessing and a curse as you say. This is a great discussion.
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