What Empathy Taught Me- It Can Be A Two Way Street

Photo by Kevin Gent on Unsplash

There have been a lot of articles, buzzes and/or blogs written about Empaths and empathy. I read many articles, then shake my head while thinking, “you might be making some valid points but do you honestly live the life of an empath or are you able to show or feel true empathy for another when it appears you’re so quick to discredit others who share true emotions openly online?” I ask myself this question, “why do you have such a strong desire to write about what you think other’s should think or better yet, others who write openly unless this is a trait you may lack?” “Why does it bother you when a person is able to show true human emotion and share it with others openly?” Do people who write about other’s showing and/or sharing emotive experiences openly cause you to feel a wound that possibly hasn’t closed? I’m very curious as to why it would bother another that some people are able to freely share their emotions? I’ve read blogs that actually accuse others who are both emotive and share emotions of looking for sympathy or getting attention from their ‘clique.’ I can only speak personally but I’ve seen many relationships develop in real life and they are growing on Social Media as well. These relationships are not cliques, they are people who share something in common. People can share similar experiences and actually feel the pain of another. I put myself in that category- if a friend or a family member experiences physical or emotional pain, I literally feel it.

Personally, I feel it’s unprofessional to define others motives if you don’t know them well or take the time to get to know them. There are many buzzes/articles written about subject matters which have nothing to do with emotion and they differ as quick as the wind blows. That’s what makes beBee unique- affinity. Many subjects may not interest me but I do read a lot and I’m not one to judge or critique another’s buzz. Why? We are all unique and that’s what makes life interesting.

A similarity of characteristics suggesting a relationship, especially a resemblance in structure between animals, plants, or languages.” — Affinity in simple terms

I was asked by a friend this evening if I’d like to go see a play. I have a hard time when I’m seated in a large crowd. My first thought was, Oh God, no, I can’t do this. As soon as the negative thought crossed my mind it was immediately replaced by a positive thought, or should I say, an empathetic thought. My friend who asked me to go had a double lung transplant 2 years ago. She also ended up with a colostomy 4 days after her lung transplant due to complications from her 13-hour surgery. She’s also been on anti-rejection medications which are destroying her kidneys. She’s now on a kidney transplant list. How could I say no?! When she asked me I felt fearful of going but my inner voice kicked in and basically kicked me in the butt. What did I hear, I heard- ‘Seriously Lisa, after all she’s been through if your any type of friend you’ll put your panic in the backseat and go! “ She is aware that I have anxiety disease (even though I down play it with her) because her issues are much larger than mine. My point? She bought tickets knowing I have a hard time with large crowds and made sure we had aisle seats.

This is what friends do for each other, the unspoken. They accommodate and think about the other because they are able to go outside of their own bounderies and focus on someone other than themselves.

My friend kept thanking me for going and quite frankly, I felt very bad that she felt she had to thank me. I thanked her for asking me. I was happy that she was happy! I was happy that she got out of her home and had a beautiful evening, we both did. I was happy to see her happy. We even made plans to meet weekly and make food for shut-ins. We also decided to start working together at a food kitchen. I have done this before but this will be new to her and she’s looking forward to it. The play was a Christmas Comedy based on the 1950’s. It brought back a lot of good memories which opened up the floodgates to our own memories as children, even though neither of us grew up in the 50's.

Image Courtesy of Google Images

Now back to the ‘emotional part,’ Part of the play focused on a Pastor who lost his wife 2 years prior at Christmas time. Even thought this play was a comedy for the most, I held back tears when memories came flooding back to me about Christmas with my mom. This will be the first major Holiday without her. My friend must have picked up on unspoken words because she asked if I was ok, and of course, with a big smile on my face, I told her, “yes, I’m really enjoying this.” She called me a liar and we bothed laughed. Unspoken words can be interpreted well by empaths and she too, is an empath with empathy. She has not lost her parents but she understands and feels the pain of another’s loss. I blew off her question because I understood how important it is for her to get out and forget about all that she has been through and still has to face. I know it helps her to focus on others and the reason I know this is because that is what keeps me centered and highly functional, by focusing on others.

I know it helps her to focus on others and the reason I know this is because that is what keeps me centered and highly functional, by focusing on others.
Empaths are highly sensitive. Empaths are naturally giving, spiritually open, and good listeners. If you want heart, empaths have got it. Through thick and thin, these world-class nurturers will be there for you. But they can easily have their feelings hurt, too: Empaths are often told that they are “too sensitive” and need to “toughen up.” Empaths absorb other people’s emotions.
Empaths are highly attuned to other people’s moods, good and bad. They feel everything, sometimes to an extreme. They take on negativity such as anger or anxiety, which can be exhausting for them. If they are around peace and love, though, their bodies take these on and flourish.

If surrounding yourself with like minded people- empaths or empathetic people is considered cliquish, I am proud to be part of that clique, (which I feel both terms do intertwine), how can you be empathetic if you’re not an empath?

My friend is a high functioning empath with great empathy for others. I want to mention that even during my mom’s cancer, both my friend and mom were sending cards to one another. I’m proud to call her a friend because we can both relate to each other on a level some would never understand. She brought up the subject of my mom tonight and we turned my grief into a positive conservation with results. My mom is probably smiling, knowing that we both care deeply for each other’s feelings. Isn’t that the way life is supposed to be? Life is reciprocal. I feel so thankful to have such a caring friend like her and she relates the same back to me. Many times our understanding of each other is unspoken and that is comforting too.

I try to remind myself when reading another person’s article that we don’t really know the person behind their words. I think that’s a good thing to keep in mind. We get snippets of someone’s life, preferences, business style etc… but can you truly know another’s true intentions when writing? Can you really know another on a personal level through their writing? I can attest that unless I get to know you on a very personal level, I can’t pretend to know you through your writing. I can make assumptions but those assumptions may not always be correct. No one would know what my friend has endured unless they know her personally because she hides her pain and fear behind smiles and fun chatter.

I personally feel that many people would benefit from letting their guard down a bit because it makes a person more approachable and others feel much more comfortable when they know someone truly cares and doesn’t consider their concerns as a form of whining. I also understand, it’s not possible for everyone to let down their guard let alone feel empathy if it’s not an inate trait.

Originally published at www.bebee.com.

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