Empathy: The Jigsaw
Posted on August 13, 2010 by Deidre Knight, One of Thousands of Life Coaches on Noomii.
Life Coach Deidre Knight's take on empathy. It's not as simple as walking in someone's shoes. You may have to break a heel or two...
It helps to ask , “who am I to judge?” It may be what we were conditioned to do, but scrutinizing, critisizing and patronizing others is like putting together a 10,000 peice puzzle with no box with a tattle-tale picture on the front to guide you through the process. Nor label, nor description…Nearly impossible! Imagine all of those tiny peices scattered about your craft table! If you even take on the task of completing the project with ease and confidence, you are probably thinking more highly of yourself than you ought.
People are made up of DNA, ancestrial traits, of experiences. We all have our own unique design and provision set before us. Buddah speaks of this individuality when he said, “Evil is done by self alone; by self alone is one defiled. By self alone is evil left undone; by self alone is one purified. Purity and impurity belong to oneself. No man can purify another”. The Holy Bible states, "your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Psalms 139:16). No matter what or who you believe in, it is evident that humans are like snowflakes, no two are alike. Saying things like, “If I were you…” is a “should statement”. Should is a lie and telling someone what they SHOULD do is totally self-righteous. *
- There is nothing that SHOULD. Either it is or isn’t.
- Someone doing what you think SHOULD be done is impossible (like that silly puzzle), you can never be another person, just for the sake of EGO.
Doing what someone else says SHOULD be done, in most situations, never helped anyone more than just doing. Again, people are unique, even if this person could somehow be you, long enough to act out a certain situation as you would have them, the result would not be the same. WHY? Because it’s not what happens that makes our truths, it is what the we (as individuals) think about a situation. Truth is the thought attached to our encounters.
Need an example?
So, your best friend is having issues with her mate. She comes to you for a listening ear. She tells you all about a huge fight that the couple had about a remote control. "Her partner says she was the last one who possessed the thing. Bestie says it was her mate who last had it. Soon enough BFF is being called a “drama queen and a liar”. Her partner has had issues with anger in the past, and is in counseling learning to handle his anger (this your friend has never shared with you). Girlfriend says that she sat and listed while her partner ranted for all of 60 seconds. Suddenly, he/she gathers her/himself and apologizes. They search for the remote together, find it in their son’s playpen beside his Tickle Me Elmo. The couple then cuddled, watched a movie, never to mention the mishap again."
You response to your friend’s story? “Humph! I wouldn’t let him get away with that! He would watch that movie alone. You are a better woman that me!” Sounds about right, right? NOT!
Consider this: if you actually were standing in place for your friend in that moment, your anger would’ve certainly fueled your partner’s. If you’re anything like me, while confronting someone, the goal is to be heard; If both parties want to be heard, and both are yelling and triggering the other’s defenses, then being heard will never happen. And while your EGO may be jovial because it is fed, full and fat from “telling someone off”, your Higher Self has achieved little, if anything at all. In the end, you have given up the power of being heard and the privilege of listening.
After your friend’s switch-a-roo with you, she would go back to filling her own shoes, not happy about the mess you left behind. You left her shoes all hot and sweaty! See, she knows her partner has grown. She knows about the hours they spent meditating and working with their life-coach and counselor, about the abuse that he/she experienced in their own life, and while there is absolutely no excuse for verbal and emotional abuse your gal-pal knows all the things that you don’t. And now BFF’s partner is sleeping on the couch, while the movie must be returned to redbox by 9! She may never see TWILIGHT because of you…
See, empathy is not just about you being you in someone else’s shoes. True empathy is humbling yourself enough to allow yourself to be that panhandling derelict in front of your favorite cafe, mixing his stale odor with the scent of your favorite brew (his shoes have holes), it is being the murder who killed her abusive father (her shoes are damp with tears and blood, it is being the meth addict (she is barefoot and sold her Laboutins for a hit), the poor, the meek, the lonely, the heartbroken, the weak—even if you’re not.
It may take some practice, but by doing so you are activating the BIG PICTURE and ENABLING THE VISION OF YOUR THIRD EYE.
The next time life calls for empathy, ask yourself, “Am I seeing the bigger picture?” Because it is only then can you put the puzzle together, piece by piece, revealing what really is.