On Empathy

My children go to a privately owned school, and last night I went to a mandatory parent meeting. The owners wanted to let us parents know that they had sold the school to one of their (now grown) alumni, and that they are retiring.

This older couple started the school 22 years ago and have put their whole lives into it- to provide good education intermingled with Christian religious standards, but they felt it was time to pass the tiller on to someone younger.

It was a very emotionally charged meeting, especially when the new owner stood up and talked about his past and how this particular school has been such an integral part of his life and who he is; or rather who he has become because of the school’s influence.

I cried through the whole meeting. Not because I was sad about the past owners, or touched at the new owner’s revelations. This change probably won’t even directly affect me at all. So why was I crying?

Because I am blessed and cursed with Empathy. I have the hardest time watching someone else feel and express a strong emotion without experiencing it myself.

I say blessed because my strong empathy helps me connect with and commiserate with people who are struggling. I can communicate with people on a deeper level and I always try my best to lift them from their afflictions somehow, even if all I can do is offer a hug.

Cursed, because of things like last night. Openly weeping because someone else told a touching story. It was a little embarrassing, haha. It can also be a curse because it makes me fiercely protective of the people I care about. I don’t want any of my friends to suffer, and if I catch a whiff of something approaching sadness on any of my family or friends, I want to dive in to the rescue.

The problem with that is, I can’t fix problems for people most of the time. It sucks. I wish I could flip a switch and magically erase the trials and difficulties that they might face so they can avoid the suffering.

Is this selfishly-induced on my part? Because if my loved ones are suffering, then it definitely carries over and makes me suffer too. I’m telling you, my empathy level is off the charts.

Also, if I took away the trials of others, it would deprive them of the chance to learn and grow into stronger and more capable individuals. I can tell you right now that I’ve been through some dark and harrowing experiences in my life that I wouldn’t ever wish on anyone else, but I’ve definitely become stronger because of it.

I do have to point out though, that if it weren’t for God and His Son, I wouldn’t have made it through those trials to begin with. So the credit is definitely all on Them, because They carried me. If I think my empathy is off the charts, then the empathy that comes from the Savior defies all description.

I know a few people who are not natural empaths, and it’s very hard to explain these things to them. They can’t feel what I’m trying to describe. Other empaths that might be reading this are nodding their heads, on the other hand, totally getting what I’m putting down.

There’s no real conclusion to an article like this. I can’t change my empathetic nature, nor would I want to. I do wish others had stronger empathy sometimes, but perhaps not as strong as mine.

Because then they would be crying all the time too, and none of us would ever get anything done.

1 Comment

  1. Hershel April 22, 2019 at 10:26 am

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