Monday, February 4, 2019

Themes of my Life: Empathy and Kindness

I am finding that empathy is not a defining value for everyone -- and it was a bit of a surprise for me, especially in places I thought it was. Perhaps (and probably) because it is important to me and integral to my own thought process, I did that dumb thing where you just assume that everyone thinks like you.

And they don't.

I don't want to claim that I always act with empathy because that would be a lie. I get impatient. I mouth off without thinking. I have a wit which has served me well -- but there is a fine line between funny and mean -- so it has also gotten me into trouble with un-thought-through words.

But, when I'm not being a snarky brat, I do try to take a step back and consider why someone is acting in they way they are that's bugging me. What are they feeling? Why? What experiences have they had in their past that contributes to right now? Can I understand those thoughts and feelings if I take off my irritation and look at them through different eyes? If I put myself in their shoes, can I understand?

Not necessarily agree, but understand.

I think it helps me to find the humanity in someone I'm tempted to insult and demonize. It makes me find my own kindness.

Kindness is important to me. Empathy is important to me.

And I can confess that I have a hard time understanding people who don't feel the same way.  I suppose it's hard for me to find empathy for those who have no empathy?

That's an odd circle, isn't it?

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