[ em-p uh-thee]
the psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.
the imaginative ascribing to an object, as a natural object or work of art, feelings or attitudes present in oneself: By means of empathy, a great painting becomes a mirror of the self.
Hi it's Dermot again. If you read my last blog from 17th April, you will know that this is a follow up to that blog and part of a "Recovery from Addiction Series", If not read on:
"Walking in another person's shoes"
Being an alcoholic helps me in my career as an addiction counsellor, as I've been there and worn the T-Shirt. I can feel empathy for other alcoholics. Does it mean that if you have not had the same experience you cannot be empathic. A lot of non alcoholics, cannot understand why the alcoholic would choose to drink themselves to death. That must truly be insanity. Yes addiction is insanity as the active alcoholic doesn't have a choice. The non alcoholic though can feel the pain of the alcoholic, by listening to their story. We all have feelings, and it is our feelings (emotions), not thoughts (logic) where empathy lies. Can a rich man feel empathy for a poor man, off course as it is feeling based.
If you ever watch something on television or somewhere else and you suddenly find yourself starting to tear up. You feel very strong emotion and identification towards what you are watching. That is a prime example of empathy.
Not to get empathy mixed up with sympathy. Sympathy is feeling sorry for someone, Empathy is knowing what it is like for them, as you've experienced it before. As above seeing yourself in a mirror.
Can empathy be learned? In our modern rat race age where everyone is self absorbed in their own lives, the ability to feel empathy in society has diminished. Empathy like all emotions, maybe diminished but never goes away. To begin to feel empathy for fellow human beings, you have to take your focus off yourself and on others again. An article by the BBC by explains it well: (See link at bottom of page)
My next article is on Fear, stay tuned.
The articles in "Recovery from Addiction" Series, are the opinion of the author and if you would like to contribute to it, please leave a comment in the comment box below. If you want to subscribe, for free, to any further blogs of mine please leave your email in the blue box below.
Recovery is about growth and everyone does grow at a different pace. My advice to anyone in early recovery is to wait at least 2 years before making any major life changing decisions that might have emotional ramifications. An example: get a mortgage, get married, change career, emigrate. In light of this everyone has dreams and we all do want to better our lives in one way or another, so it is important in early recovery to start to put those dreams into reality by creating achievable goals which can be reached in time. I found in my early recovery, although I had dreams, I wasn’t aware of creating goals and my life unfolded by default. It turned out well for me, but had I had clear goals, I do feel that it would have been even better.
I do try to learn from my mistakes, and that is why they are little miracles in themselves that happen for a reason. I am a growth seeking being I will continue to seek change in myself. What motivates me is the Pain – Pleasure, which moves me away from my pain points (a lack of finances, time & peace of mind) to my pleasure points (freedom of finances, time & peace of mind). The way I have found to achieve this freedom and to move away from the “Groundhog Day” of life is through on line marketing. I have taken this step into the abyss, I’m not tech savvy at all, and with the support of SFM, I am working my way through it. The internet is here to stay and is the future for all of us, so don’t get left behind because it is gaining momentum. If you want to learn what I am learning and are in a point in your life where you want change, then I offer you, through my mentors, a no obligation FREE 7 day video series to watch.