Please accept my apologies for not being here for a while. Life has gotten busy and I actually wrote this post about 2 weeks ago and am only now getting around to posting it. Hope you all are well xo.
Empathy- the easiest explanation of it is for 2 people to feel along with one another.
The dictionary defines it as is the capacity to understand what another person is experiencing from within the other person’s frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another’s shoes.
I am Autistic But I still have the ability to put myself in another s shoes, I still have the ability to understand what another person is experiencing. I have a deep care and a deep compassion for many people. As the definition of the dictionary goes on empathy I have the ability to do this.
BUT as the definition of society I do not here is why. Society understands empathy to be something totally different.
What seems to be deeply longed for by everyone I meet is for 2 things to happen simultaneously.
- understanding what another person is experiencing while at the same time understanding what I am feeling about what the person is feeling.
This becomes too much of a mish mosh for me and I become overwhelmed and cannot do it.
Since I know my limitations on this I can share the benefits setting aside my own feelings of it because it is not all bad.
Letting go of how I feel about what another person is experiencing gives me a deeper understanding into what another person is experiencing. By practicing my own humility and drawing on my life experiences I am better able to offer advice. (keep in mind when I say drawing on my life experiences I am not talking about the feeling I had from the experience I am talking about just the experience, no feelings attached.) I can better see the practical things I did to overcome or get through the difficult experience.
My mind wants to head in the direction of how this must seem to society and how it must appear I deeply lack social skills however the results of this are the same. (Feeling alone- either for others or for myself)
As I understand now It has definitely left me feeling alone.
Some people will have heard me say “Why can’t I just talk?”
Regardless of how anyone else wants me to be I was made the way I was made. I cannot feel your feelings and feel my feelings too. One or the other.
To others I rarely share my feelings and to my husband I have my days (very few) where I need to process what I am feeling. This sometimes leads to misunderstandings because I don’t want to know how people feel about what I am feeling.
Imagine as sensory processing goes that feelings are food. Yours are corn and mine are peas. I cannot eat the corn and the peas together. My physical response to this is to spit one or the other back out. It is involuntary and not something I do to hurt anyone. (biggest heartbreak of my life)
Many self absorbed people enjoy being the center of attention. They enjoy indulging in their feelings and their feelings alone. I do not although I may be viewed as being self absorbed.I feel my feelings at a different time
I once sat at a table and listened to 8 people tell me how I hurt them and how it made them feel. Each thing they shared was relevant to their perceptions ( if I was a bitch!) but totally NOT the reality of my actions. I needed to remind myself I am not responsible for how others perceive my intent. In their opinion I was the mastermind of all the evil in life. Fact is
- I cannot attend a party I am not invited to and don’t know anything about
- I cannot lie about my childhood
I cannot just keep giving every thing I create away for free! I need to eat too!
I cannot force my ex to do anything!!
All these facts are besides the point. By besides the point I mean they have no feeling attached to them unless I absolutely consciously make a choice to feel them. I can prove I have empathy for others though
their feelings for each perceived event
- feeling forgotten, ignored, unimportant
- feeling afraid shame and guilt
- feeling jealous, envious and greedy
- feeling angry, resentment, powerless
I still await the day I have the opportunity to tell these 8 people how they made me feel.
My feelings for each of their perceived events
- feeling forgotten ignored unimportant falsely accused
- feeling dis valued, abused, shamed, falsely accused
- feeling used, cheap, like an utter slave, unimportant, controlled
- feeling falsely accused, powerless, shamed
Fact is I did not attend a baby shower- I was not invited. The person got offended I did not come
Fact is I was sexually abused as a child and this person did not want me to talk about it
Fact is I created poems and this person wanted to put them to music and earn money off of them without compensating me
Fact is when I got divorced my ex would not allow my children to see this person
ALL THESE THINGS are BEYOND MY CONTROL!!
and yet these people had feelings about it and wanted me to know these feelings they had about it. All the while I pushed my own feelings aside to listen an empathize. If I felt along with them I would have killed myself.
The emotional world is a wild roller coaster ride. With emotions that are derived from false perceptions or events and even sometimes false events and emotions that are derived from true perceptions and events that honestly did happen. This can only be discerned individually and more times than not we will be wrong.
Either way I do have the ability to put myself in another persons shoes. BUT I cannot wear my own shoes at the same time. Last time I checked I don’t have 4 feet!