Let’s Talk About Em-pa-thy – Let’s Talk About You and Me
Empathy is a hell of a drug. Isn’t it? It’s the ability to ‘trip’ on the emotions, feelings and thoughts of an-other. Unlike sympathy, it requires you to directly engage with someone else’s insides. You’ve got to walk in the other person’s shoes. You can’t just sit back on your pillow of pleasantness, laugh on the inside, and maybe, just maybe – only out of sympathy – extend your ‘supportive’, un-emotionally-fettered hand out for aid. Nope. Empathy demands your hands get dirty. It demands you to dive back into the dark places you’ve already been, to draw on the emotions and thoughts and experiences you’ve had, so that you can use those past-heartaches to relate to The Other.
When you empathise then, you’re not merely indulging in a purely intellectual exercise. When you’re empathising, you’re not simply observing your past experiences and identifying them as the correct response to The Other’s woes. It’s not like a school assessment where you merely have to recall data by dipping into your memory bank to retrieve the right answer. Humans don’t work like that…
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