Empathy Without Pain


Today I got a glimpse of what it actually is to separate myself from the emotions of another human being. I was breaking some "bad news" to a family member. There were no tears, no shouting - but I could TASTE the frustration and pain in their words and in their body language. For a moment I felt guilty, then I remebered a book: The Power of Now. The book highlights that the way to decrease the power of an emotion is to turn your full attention upon it - do not judge it, simply "observe" it. Through observation and acceptance of this emotion (guilt in my case), you disidentify yourself from it - effectively starving the emotion. As the moment passed and my family fell deeper into negativity... I felt more at peace. And I felt strong. As I grew more peaceful, SO DID THE MEMBER OF MY FAMILY.

I left the room where my family remained, wondering if I was losing the empathy that I had been so proud of before I entered that room (empathy has been one of my favorite personal qualities for over a decade). But, somehow I felt more understanding of my family's emotions when I dissacociated myself from their feelings. Napoleon Hill - my favorite philosopher - once indicated that it was possible to care for another person's negativity and problems without allowing yourself to "go down under them". I now have a greater understanding of what he meant.

Micah Markray

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