Tag Archives: empathy

One thing I learned….


That although my personality is very intense, I tend to try and not swing too far one way or another in philosophies, opinions, people… From the time I joined La Leche League 20 years ago, I found there were moms who were very extreme in their child-rearing practices, both unbelievably strict (we’re talkin about babies here, not Marine recruits) and extremely lax (“I support you in expressing your frustrations. Would you like to beat on this toy instead of pounding and kicking my very pregnant womb?”)  But I learned it’s best to try and find what fits for you and leave the Adamantly Opinionated alone. They probably have been told before that their practices are overly-______, and if they feel so strongly about it they’re probably not gonna change much.  I learned not to be defensive about my choices and explain away why I wasn’t/was doing something so awful from their point of view.

I also try really hard to put myself in other people’s shoes. Empathy is a great teacher, as I learned  the “jerk”, or “radical” or whatever person has a family too, had horrible experiences in their lives, have been known to be kind and moderate to other people, and even that some people are just shallow. They are not asking me to make them deep. They are okay with who they are. One of my biggest empathy lessons learned was that there really were many other people in the world who did not need closure As Much As I Do.  I tended to try and re-instate the conversation that got distracted by the dog running through the house soaking wet.  Because the conversation was not yet “finished.” I also thought all reconciliations had to be “complete,” if I forgave somebody of something wretched they did, I had to be their best buddy now and trust them like nothing ever happened.

I don’t remember exactly the moment when the light bulb went on inside my head that there are many other viewpoints in the world, and nobody designated my way of seeing things as the correct one.  Five people witness a car accident, five different stories of what happened. Extremely different many times to the extent that you think how could all of these people seen the same thing with so much conflicting information? Which people are lying? None of them, they all saw the accident in the context of their life, whatever they were doing at the moment, whatever reminded them of that thing they saw on tv one time, whether they were contently drinking their starbucks–or just had the hot liquid spill all over their lap. People are fallible and actually do make mistakes and behave in atrocious manners without it having anything to do with me personally. I’m pretty sure the CIA is tracking me though…. they want to know what causes a person to use so much sarcasm in a blog.