Ignorance is bliss. So is blame, apparently, since it’s been going around so freely lately. Which is why I’ve been searching desperately for where I can find the empathy we’ve lost.
I’m the first one to admit that I’m a control freak. Classic Type A personality. And it’s not easy for us to accept when we’re wrong. So that’s what makes it so easy to blame others for our discomfort, anger, or inability to understand the emotional side of a situation or opinion. This stubbornness (so I’ve been told) is part of why it’s also hard to empathize naturally because it’s not easy for us to show our feelings.
Here’s one of Brené Brown’s many deep thoughts that helps further explain the idea behind why empathy is so hard.
After some recent reflection, I have some questions that have really been weighing heavy on my heart. When did it become ok not to care about others? To be so blasé about other humans and who they are or where they come from in life experience?
Despite my Type A disposition, I’m fighting to develop and show my emotions more. Due to this, the more I see in the news each day, the sadder I become. And it’s not a “oh no, that’s too bad” passive sadness. It’s me sitting and contemplating how long I can hold in crying until I can’t take it anymore. It’s being so speechless, I just end up staring at the person being non-empatheic, hoping if I do it hard enough, they feel the pain that their words are inflicting.
I don’t know why I’ve been so drawn to this, but after talking to one close confidant, it might be because this has been called on my heart for a reason. Maybe I’m supposed to be the voice others don’t often hear. Maybe this is how I learn to grow as a person and in my faith. Maybe I’ve got a job at the UN in the future and I’m just getting prepped for it now (I can only dream).
So let’s at least take the first two ideas and make them real.
While this doesn’t feel good most days to be crushed by the plight of my fellow man, I can tell you it’s given me a new outlook on what patience is. I’ve never been good with it, but when I know the only way I can get another person to listen is by waiting and carefully showing them a varying point of view, patience is key my friend. Like a dog waiting for the signal to get the treat on it’s nose, the reward from getting someone to understand where you’re coming from, agree or disagree aside, is such a great release.
What if I, along with others who understand this feeling, am able to use this for good? The UN may seem far-fetched, but it’s not out of my realm of thought. I like the idea that we all can “use our powers for good” as a superhero would say. And yet we don’t even have to be superheroes to be good. We just have to be examples of understanding and open to discussing our side of the coin with calmness. Being an ambassador to those who may not have ever heard my side is like my own version of the UN right here where I am.
My idea of my religion has been tested as well. While I’ve always identified as a Christian, having others portray my choice as less than empathetic has really pushed me. And surprisingly in a good way towards my faith. Because while others may pick the pieces they like to support their argument, I’ve been going back and reading or re-reading many pieces of scripture to actually see what God has said. It’s pushed me to rely on His word and not the imperfectness of humans. I work on reading whole passages to get “the rest of the story”, like a regular Paul Harvey. Even then, I’m left to wait for His words to reach me in the way they were intended, not necessarily in the way we as man interpret it. This, I believe, is the key to the growth I long to have for the rest of my life.
During this season of patience, I have to remind myself, in this world, nothing is going to be easy (#adultingishard). We’re all human. We will never be perfect. To try to be is not only futile, but just plain extra work and stress that I think we can agree we really don’t need.
But we can be better. We have to be. I believe in it. I know empathy is there on the inside, lighting up people’s hearts. I’m just waiting to see the flicker turn to flame and come out in their actions with more diligence and care than ever before.