If one was to look back on their time at school or to a time when they were playing sports, they might remember a moment when someone fell over or injured themselves. Now, as they picture this in their mind, they might see that some people laughed and some people didn’t.
One way of looking at this would be to say that there were people who stayed in their head and people who went into their heart. When one stays in their head, it can be easy for them to avoid their feelings; just as when one brings their attention into their heart, it will be possible for them to feel another’s pain.
Through thinking about the past, one has gained an understanding of what it looks like when someone has empathy and when they don’t. They might not even need to go back this far, as they might be able to think about something that happened today or a few days ago.
When one shows empathy, they will have done their best to feel how the other person is feeling; this doesn’t mean there will be a complete match, but they will be close enough. In the absence of empathy, one won’t be using their head and their heart to imagine how the other person is feeling.
It could be said that they will be detached from what is taking place and this is why they won’t in touch with the other person’s experience. One is not allowing themselves to imagine how the other person is feeling.
When one is out of touch with their own emotions, it won’t be possible for them to connect to another person’s emotional experience. One will see themselves as separate from the other and as they feel this way, their behaviour could be classed as normal.
A Different Language
If someone only spoke one language and they were to come across another who spoke a different language, there will be problems. One person could ask where the toilet is and the other might end up getting them a drink.
But as they both speak different languages, this is to be expected. It is not that one person is out to have a negative impact on the others life; it is that one is doing the best they can with what they know.
Each person looks the same and yet they speak a different language. And when it comes to empathy, each person looks the same, but they are not experiencing life in the same way.
This could also have an effect on someone’s career path; as if one is unable to show empathy, it wouldn’t be a good idea for them to work in the helping profession. Similar to how if one has a high level of empathy, they might not be cut out for the corporate lifestyle.
When one shows empathy, they are going to have a different inner process to someone who doesn’t. This is not to say that one has to do anything, as it could be something that takes place naturally.
However, even when one is able to empathise, it doesn’t mean they will be in a constant state of empathy. There are likely to be moments when they won’t show empathy, and this is to be expected.
If one was to be in constant state of empathy, they would soon end up feeling drained. It is then going to be important for one to have boundaries and to protect their ability to feel what others are feeling.
For example, one might give things to others, but that doesn’t mean that they should give their house away. In order for one to be there for others, they will have to be there for themselves.
So while there will be times when they have to detach, there will be times when they are connected to how others feel. Yet, when it comes to someone who is more or less always detached from how others feel, it shows that they are out of balance.
The need to protect themselves has taken over and they are not using their ability to connect with other peoples emotional experience. What this can show is that they have a build up of emotional pain within them.
As a result of how they feel on the inside, it is then too painful for them to empathise with others. It is not possible for them to feel another pains and to then carry on with their life.
When they feel others pain, it can trigger what they have disconnected from within their own body. It is then not that they don’t care about others, it is that they are doing what they can do avoid their own emotional pain.
A Build Up
So unless one deals with the pain that is within them, it is highly unlikely that they will change how they are. Pain is part of life and this is why it is important for one to deal with their pain.
All the time one avoids it, it is going to affect their ability to experience empathy. The pain within them could be due to what happened during their childhood, as well as what has happened during their adulthood.
When one wants to experience more empathy, they will have a reason for face their pain. Yet, if this need is not there, one might continue to avoid their pain. It will be important for one to reach out for support here. This could be through the assistance of a therapist, healer and/or a support group.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.