recall, in the first episode, I found two articles on empathy and planned to write some awesome, uplifting post. sorry, that ain’t goin’ happen. don’t blame me, blame the material.
I felt excited this weekend when i saw two headlines discussing empathy. i thought, cool! i’ll be able to produce some earth shattering, completely up-lifting post on empathy. it ain’t going to happen. don’t blame me, blame the material.
Brene Brown, in Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, writes, “If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”
i’ll go even further. when one of our life adventures, no matter how awful, is received with empathy, we feel accepted for who we are and where we are. that acceptance is powerful and a form of love.
i went to my psychiatrist yesterday. recognizing how my depression can be a drag on Mary, i not so eloquently asked him, “any suggestions along the line, obviously when i’m in a bad space, it’s also a bad time for Mary. any suggestions along that line?”
dr. rogge replied, “…have some empathy for one another…just acknowledge it; that’s all you have to do.”
simple. yet, at times so difficult.
i recognize when i’m in a bad space, i am so wrapped up in myself. it is hard to see anything. i can imagine the difference it would make if i could say something like, “i recognize that when i am in depression, that it’s a hard time for you. i wish i didn’t have to drag you through it. when i do, it brings me sorrow as i’m sure it does for you, too. i wish that didn’t have to happen.”
or perhaps from the other side. “i recognize the depression puts you in a horrible place. that place is not of your choosing. when you get taken to that place, it makes me sad. i wouldn’t wish this on anyone.”
both of these statements ooze empathy. they acknowledge the wretched state and do it with out judgement. being on the receiving end of either of these statements, would make the situation feel a little less heavy and i would feel a little more accepted, a little more loved.
one thing that has become clear to me is the power of our group, that being the people who suffer with mental disorders. we tend to seek solace with one another. we unknowingly and unwittingly become a support structure, a shoulder to lean on. its that willing ear, an understanding being, someone who has walked a similar walk. that makes it easier to leap to the feeling of, “been there, done that, i understand.” that generates strong feelings of belonging and empathy. those feeling give us a feeling of connectedness, that connectedness we as humans all desire.
so in closing, i offer up a challenge; act out of empathy today. in doing so, you will be taking a small step towards making the world a better place.
I have been reading Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. i am currently working my way through a chapter on shame.
as i parsed my way through the list on why people feel shame, i read the line, “because we are stereotyped or labeled.” with that, i had a new found understanding about my journey with my mental disorder, why i felt “”unclean”. i came to recognize with that one little line, through that one little label, that one little stereotype, i had been thrown into a shame induced stupor. Continue reading