Since I can remember, I’ve always had the propensity to feel the emotions of those I’m around. It was almost like a sixth sense that I couldn’t explain until I started to understand what Empathy was.
Placing yourself in someone else’s shoes, at it’s core, this is what empathy is; trying to feel and understand the emotions that another may be feeling. I’ve always been able to get along well with others because I was empathetic, I could understand their feelings and I could act accordingly to those feelings however as I’ve grown and experienced things, I had an idea that maybe there is much more depth to empathy than I originally understood and just understanding someone’s feelings in relation to my own was just the surface.
I’ve learned that it is impossible to understand the complete inner workings of someone else. To do that you would have to know every experience, every thought, every emotion that someone has gone through and that is just impossible, however we can show our understanding of others in a different more generic way. I like to call this: Awakening.
I describe awakening as this: We all live in our own worlds, that is, we all have our own unique collection of experiences, ideas, thoughts, relationships, behaviours and emotions that make up who we are. We mostly see things from our own worlds which we can understand for the most part. When we awaken, we realize that everyone else has their own worlds that they see and experience from and by understanding that, we can try to empathize with the world from which a person experiences their life from.
An example is perhaps someone said something hurtful to someone else and caused them social withdrawal. Basic empathy helps us to relate in that we understand how it would feel if those hurtful things were said to us but by realizing that this happened in another person’s world and not ours, we can see much more. Perhaps this isn’t the first time something hurtful like this was said and they’ve been traumatized because it’s been said their entire life or perhaps this is the first time they’ve ever been put down and they don’t know how to respond. We don’t have a way of telling exactly why or how a person feels the way they do but by trying to understand that they have their own world of experiences that they draw emotion from, we can be more sensitive in our own responses and become more understanding of those emotions.
Our worlds are all constantly interacting and learning to empathize and see perspective from not only the surface feelings, but understanding that there is an ocean of depth to why other’s experience emotion is what I believe the key to awakening is.
I’ve always been empathetic, but now for me, empathy is no longer about placing myself in another person’s shoes and understanding their feelings. I try to put myself in another person’s world and understand that a lot might have happened for someone to reach the emotion that they are at and that anything I say and do might have an effect on that world.