How to be an Empath, or Do You See What I Feel?

Well here we are, 2019, Trump’s POTUS, Morrison’s the Australian PM and the world seems a little colder, even as the climate heats up. Whatever you believe, chances are you see things that’re wrong in the society in which you live, and it probably stirs an emotional response. Be it sadness or anger, fear or helplessness, your feelings will, at least in part, govern your actions and inactions. So let’s talk about this.

This is not a post for those who get angry and fill their hearts with hate… or maybe it is. This is a blog post about that much ignored malady, Empathy, and if you Hate, then something’s obviously fried your Empathy circuit. That will make this hard to comprehend. Sociopaths and Psychopaths may also struggle to understand.

For the rest of us, overwhelmed by the emotions found at the depression end of the “Scale of Feels,” or Fear that’s spawned by a world that values love so little, this post is for you. I know what it’s like to be lost in the darkness, “lonely though surrounded.”

But I also know what it’s like to have love, to have good friends, to laugh and see the madness in this crazy, beautiful world. Holding onto that stuff will keep you living, but to really break on through to the lighter side for good, you need to find other people. You need to see they feel the same things as you. Find like minded souls, without hiding in an echo chamber of confirmation bias. If fear threatens to drown you in hopelessness, hone your empathy.

Empathy, for those playing along at home, is the ability to not just sympathise with another person, but to share their feelings, hurt when they hurt, laugh when they laugh. Truly, to experience such things, has been the highlight of my life. There is a oneness you forge with another person in that moment, and all anger, fear and doubt fades away like a fart in a cool breeze.

There is a cost though, and it can be very draining. Essentially you’re receiving understanding from them while giving them your strength.  Empathy can be scary too. You can only use it when your own heart is wide open. This leaves you vulnerable, so don’t do this with someone abusive. You do not want them inside your head and you can do without their shit.

As for the draining part, I find it helps if you look at the world through eyes trained to see hope and wonder. Find somewhere you can recover, somewhere safe and peaceful. I try to go somewhere each day with just trees and wildlife for company. It’s easy to find wonder in the Australian bush.

Even with the downsides, Empathy is a worthwhile part of the things I use to cope with a society in which people are separated into boxes. If we start seeing people as individuals not groups, not race nor religion nor gender identity, we might finally be able to get some shit done. What I’ve learned in 54 years of life is that everyone has a story and most are worth listening to.

Generalizations are anathema to empathy. No two people are the same, regardless of the wrapping they are in. Look people in the eyes when you talk to them, but not in a creepy way. Eyes are connected directly to a person’s brain, and it’s the closest thing to a direct link to their mind that we have. They weren’t kidding when they dubbed them the mirrors of the soul.

So now you’ve locked eyes with someone, what then?

Listen, talk, ask. Words are the magic catalyst, that and the telltale expression in the eyes. We’ve all seen sadness behind a smile. Here’s the thing. Empathy will show you what that person needs from you. With a little practice it becomes obvious within seconds. In time you learn to glimpse behind the mask that everyone wears, but only when you’ve shared that moment of openness. Don’t be afraid to cry with them, in joy or sorrow, to laugh, to sing, if that’s what the moment needs. For that time, you are not there for you. Be there FOR that person. Forget about the world for those precious seconds and let someone in. It’ll rock your world.

I believe that what is missing from the leaders of this world is Empathy. The population’s grown too many to be living in isolation any more. The idea of race should no longer apply when we can fly round the world in a day. I like to think of Australia as an ark, we have people living here from every nation on Earth. If we can’t learn to get along, what hope has the world got.

So for those of you who’ve made it this far in the post, I thank you. We Empaths have got to stick together. Go into the world, understand the hearts of others and change the world.

Now go and share the love,(and this post 🙂  and fill the world with peace.

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