In a world that’s all about entitlements and self-obsession, we have two choices. Empathy or Apathy.
When we focus on ourselves, we can easily gather all the evidence we need not to care about responsibilities, expectations, our own hopes and dreams and, worst of all, one another. Every time something doesn’t go as planned, we’re confronted with adversity or another human being hurts us, we’re faced with the temptation to say “screw it” and throw in the towel. Give up. On our jobs, our families, our relationships and our own aspirations. But to respond to circumstance with apathy is really just a mask for cowardice. You’ve been hurt, disappointed, let down, failed and you don’t want to risk facing that again. It’s EASIER to walk away, to dismiss that responsibility, that goal or that person and just give up.
APATHY = FEAR.
Human beings weren’t meant to be disconnected from one another. We are social creatures, dependent on community. We do not thrive, or even survive, in isolation. Yet apathy is a psychological tool we use to separate ourselves from one another. And it’s completely inauthentic. Inherently, human beings long for love, acceptance and socialization with other humans. But that isn’t possible with apathy. It’s only possible with empathy.
Empathy is the ability to step outside of your own thoughts, emotions, experience, expectations and “needs” and to put yourself into the mindset of another human being. To really GET that your reality is only yours and that people have their own perception and experience. And that each is valid. Empathy is giving up the need to be right or heard or validated and being committed to understanding someone else. It’s allowing someone the grace, tolerance, acceptance, patience and forgiveness they need in their humanness. It’s having the courage to keep moving forward knowing you may be hurt or let down or fail, but that the privilege to simply BE with another human being, sharing their time and space, contributing to their life and gaining in return, is well worth the risk. Empathy is embracing your innate connection to other human beings absent of expectation or fear. It creates a space for you to be your authentic self and for others to be theirs. And THAT is a powerful place to come from.
Stop giving up on your responsibilities. On your dreams. On the people you care about. Life is hard and messy, that’s the price we pay for being alive. Toss out your drawer full of apathy and try on something new. EMPATHY = LOVE.