This is Part One of a 3-part series
Welcome to another Ripple series. We’re going to zoom-in on empathy over the next few weeks.
Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
Some people are naturally attuned to this fundamental human function. They can easily detect and intuit the feelings of others.
Imagine being so sensitive that not only do you deeply experience your own emotions, but you also deeply experience the emotions of others. This is a huge gift, one of the highest gifts from the Creator. But it can certainly make us feel heavy at times. The weight can feel even heavier if we are surrounded by folks who seem to have Empathy Deficit Disorder, or EDD.
EDD is characterized by the inability to recognize or identify feelings and emotions. Persons who struggle to identify and experience their own emotions tend to dissociate from the emotions of others as well.
Some say that those with EDD are the bullies, narcissists, and dictators of the world. While that may be true, I want to offer a more universally compassionate perspective.
These perspectives are derived from my firsthand experience of studying since 2013 within alternative therapy, personal development, and holistic healing schools throughout the world. I offer these perspectives not as dogma, but as suggestions. May you consider them with an open mind.
Many folks with EDD are some of the most fearful humans. While they do not connect with nor share their emotional landscapes in a healthful way, they still possess the ability to emote.
They, like all humans, carry deep emotions. However, they are terrified of experiencing and sharing those emotions. They have likely been programmed to believe that (certain) emotions are a shameful or “weak” thing to have. Because they do not allow themselves to experience, communicate, or process their own emotions, they struggle to detect the emotions of others. Often, they will change the subject or turn away when others begin to show or share deep emotion.
People with EDD are not “bad” people. In many cases, most of these folks are tortured by their fear of what other people will think. However, these folks will not appear to be tortured. In fact, they often to appear to be focused, industrious, and can be quite successful professionally (like many of our world leaders).
Folks with EDD do not deserve to be judged as insensitive or uncaring. Instead, may we have compassion for the hell it is to live inside of a mind that is tortured and controlled by what other people may think.
To some degree, all humans have experienced episodes of EDD. We have carried emotions within us that we would do anything not to acknowledge. When we do this, we block our empathy as well. When we are in this state of avoidance, we will run from anyone who is carrying emotions similar to the ones we wish not to feel. We often will not understand why someone is suddenly repulsive to us.
Empathy is not just a nice virtue, it is a necessity for the health of ourselves, our families, and our world.
Without empathy, we will vote for actions and leaders which harm people. We will do this without realizing the harm in what we are doing. This is a very dangerous place to be (consider the sentiments among the devoted Nazi militants, who believed so strongly that their actions were justified. While this is an extreme example, we all have moments of EDD, and these moments could have a detrimental impact in the lives of others).
Without empathy, we also risk never knowing what is going on inside the hearts and minds of those we love.
Over the next week, take some time to detect your level of empathy.
Notice if you seem to live most of your life in your head, just going from task to task.
Notice how often you think thoughts which worry of what other people think.
Notice how often you experience emotion (happy, sad, and all that’s in between).
Notice how deeply you feel the emotion. Can you feel the emotion in your body?
Or does your mind start talking loudly over the emotion, taking you out of feeling it?
While with other people, notice how much you are feeling and relating, if you are thinking, or if your attention is somewhere else as they speak.
We’ll take this conversation to even deeper levels over the next few weeks…
I AM with you.