About Empathy

lighthouse-2028507_960_720

Let me ask you a question.

How many times have you been on the receiving end of someone ‘venting out’ stuff on you?

Have you ever been elevated to this role model of impossible empathy that you can no more find people understanding that maybe, at times, you need a friend like that too?

I once read somewhere that you cannot serve with an empty heart. You need to be emotionally balanced enough to soak in the imbalances of others. And frankly, helping people lighten their load, if only by being a patient listener, is what humans, as a community is all about.

That’s how we survive; helping each other, promoting each other’s growth, celebrating the victories, mourning the loses.

But the material point is, I’ve only ever found so many people willing enough to empathize these days. Sympathy? Yes, that is present in abundance. But empathy? The art of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and trying to actually feel their misery?

That is what lacks.

In taxing times, you don’t need people nodding at you and telling you the ‘wicked ways of the world,’ or that somewhere in extreme parts of the Earth people are starving; that doesn’t quite put their tumult to rest now does it?

We need more people bold enough to say, ‘I’m here for you if you need me,’ and brave enough to mean it. We need more people to re-establish other people’s faith in this morally declining world.

It’s hard being a vessel all the time. Vessel open to all forms of lamentations, grief, agitation and pain and still manage to uphold the countenance of a calm face, comforting eyes and an understanding touch.

But hey, I’m here to tell you it is okay.

I’ve been on receiving end of the laments of a lot of different people. I’ve been the receiving end of the adults in my family.

I’ve tried my best empathizing with people 30 years ahead of me. I’ve heard my much younger friends and tried my best to console.

I’ve listened to strangers online. I’ve even maintained a tolerable disposition in front of people I generally dislike.

But.

I’ve also seen people get gradually distracted and lose sense of the conversation when I’m at the pouring end. I’ve also seen people fidgeting with their cell phone while I eventually, with a few hesitant, muffled words succumb to silence. I’ve seen people lose interest when the conversation is no more revolving around ‘them.’

I’ve also noticed general apathy in the eyes of the receiver.

I’ve seen it and I’ve been quiet. Maybe that’s just how the world works. However, what I observed during this course was, people with the lack of a listening heart, often find solace within themselves. They crumble and crawl inside and eventually find rest within the comforting box of their own warmth.

Eventually, these people stop voicing out and get used, or rather comfortable, finding their peace within themselves. Or to take an extra daring step, maybe in a few pages of literature?


Can you guess why I chose a picture of a lighthouse with this post? Let me know in the comments. 

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32 thoughts on “About Empathy

  1. What an amazing post Aakansha! Being by nature a sensitive soul, I’ve always been a beacon (lighthouse reference!) for people to unwind/vent/complain to. And like you, whether it comes from my best friend, or someone I only grudgingly tolerate, I always do my best.Just recently, and out of the blue I had an interaction with someone on FB. She had a falling out with a mutual friend, but for some reason felt the need to unload on me, despite us not really being close (just someone we occasionally see at a party or at the pub).I have never really been able to figure out why but this post has helped me see why in many ways.

    As an aside, I will also say despite my stalwart rock of support (another lighthouse reference!) on more than one occasion I have gotten the disinterested response from people when I am pouring my heart out. The glance of the phone, the yeah yeah..I feel you, just have to get over it/move on/blah blah blah. Yet somehow when I have conversed with them, no answer other than the meaning of life will be sufficient for them. Ah well….maybe that’s why I keep my headphones on and listen to Runrig! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Robert.

    I always knew there must be more people out there who’ve gone through the ‘it’s only a phase’ or ‘it’ll get better’ scenario. It can be distressing at first but like you so generously pointed out, things like music, art and poetry can often bring us the most unexpected consolation!

    I’m really proud of you if you play the role of a patient and kind listener despite being denied of one yourself. And I’m more than happy that you could somehow find an answer in this post. Now I’m very glad I wrote it. πŸ™‚

    You figured out the lighthouse reference sir. Well done!

    Aah, yes. Runrig. :’)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well I suppose though others may deny listening to me properly, I at least have someone who will always listen no matter what. And do so patiently and gives me as much time as necessary. So that mitigates the frustration from others. But yes, your observations were solid here and you made me think of it in a different way.

      Hey, I’m all about the lighthouses! I love them physically, I love the symbolism of them, I love photographing them…And by the way, it pleases me to no end that you like some of the music I write about that you may not have heard of. It was something I hoped would happen when I started writing these, and its great to know people are listening. Thank you Aakansha!

      Like

  3. I couldn’t just pass by with a mere click on that star icon. I think most of the people who turn to writing have similar experiences. I know I am a very talkative person. Ofcourse around the people I’m comfortable with. But almost all the time, people start showing these signals so that I stop. I even had instances where they openly told me to stop too! I open my notepad, write them down. Or my diary. Or I’ll go to the terrace or some empty place so that I can talk to myself. May be because it had hurt me all the time how they do to me, when it is their turn, I listen. I listen intently and give occasional remarks to encourage them, cuz I believe talking is a cure. WordPress is the perfect place for people like us! A lot of listeners, a lot to listen to.
    I don’t know why you kept a lighthouse picture, but if I were you, I’d have done it because lighthouses are good listeners. They listen to a cap’s solitary songs, or his lady love’s complaints. I love lighthouses cuz they give this sense of hope that somewhere someone is waiting for me too! With a lantern held high! πŸ’–

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Nicely put Aakansha. For me, the Lighthouse is that solitary figure, who for the safety of others, removes themselves from the regular pleasures that others get to continually enjoy, as they go about their daily lives, sometimes only subconsciously aware, that someone, somewhere, is waiting to rescue them once again, should they succumb to the dangers around them. The bartender at the local watering hole who takes my car keys when I’ve had one too many, the firefighters asleep at the station, when they would much rather be sleeping at home with their families, the search-and-rescue teams, braving the worst weather and most dangerous geography in the world, because some skier couldn’t read a simple “Out Of Bounds” notice, and countless others like them. All of these brave souls, as well as the inanimate Lighthouse, for myself at least, share a great deal with the person who takes upon themselves the psychological stresses of those around them, in those moments when some poor soul is about to snap from the strain, and somehow senses that this person they are unloading on, is in some inexplicable way, the very person that is strong enough to carry their burden at that particular time.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This post, I understand. πŸ˜€
    I’ve played the part of every character mentioned here. The one who vents the one who listens and also, despite my best efforts not to be this guy: the guy who prefers to browse through his Instagram feed instead. I reckon I’m not the only one. In fact I have a strong suspicion that almost everyone has poured, has been on the recieving end of an outpouring or has been indifferent to it. It’s WHO you’re indifferent to that makes all the difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well, my friend, what a nice read. Actually, I find myself looking for a receiving end right now, so your words remind me how the one person who showed disposition to listen to me whenever I was in need of venting out, suddenly doesn’t want to do this anymore. And she won’t tell me why. People are strange. I passed the best days of the twelve months with her and she turned her back on me without an explanation. So I’m feeling quite empathic right now; I really see your point.
    And about the lighthouse? I need somebody to turn it on for me.
    A big hug.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I loved the theme of the post.
    Being a listener really requires empathy and most of all the will to try and understand what led the other individual to feel that a certain situation went beyond their threshold.
    The outsiders might be just exposed to the end product of that situation and hence they feel that the other person is being dramatic, whereas they have no clue about the back story.
    Also as the one whose puring their hearts out, it really takes guts and trust to tell someone something that affects you on such a deep level.
    The worst thing one can do at such a time is to pretend that they are “listening”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much.
      You framed it perfectly. Most of the time the receiver doesn’t have the slightest idea of the unrest the other person is in.
      Not listening is way better than pretending to listen, no?

      Like

  8. The lighthouse for me would be those few pages of literature which we happen to create like the post I am commenting for; those pages show hope, show that no matter who listens to us when we most need it, the paper will always love us and we will always love the paper πŸ™‚
    Nice post Aakansha!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. This is one of the best posts I had read in wordpress. You cannot serve with an empty heart. How true it is! about the light house picture, yes by empathy we show some light in other’s lives and in the right time.just like light house guides our way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Anthony!

      I’m grateful you noticed my long absence from the blogosphere. I’d been cramming up with the finals all March so couldn’t​ find a single hour of sitting in front of a blank screen to write.

      I am well. Exhausted, a little but I’m okay. πŸ™‚ Actually, I did write a post yesterday but it got really late so couldn’t edit it properly. It only needs some more furnishing before I publish it.

      How are you? Though I myself haven’t done any writing the whole month, I have been reading some of your stuff all along. Thoughtful as always!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for the compliment, Aakansha. I understand how life can pile things on top of you and end up getting away from writing for a while because you literally can’t write. I’m well on my end and just wanted to make sure you ok, too. Good luck on all your finals. I’m sure a brilliant young lady like yourself will do great πŸ˜ƒ

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