How often do we find ourselves being hurt or disrespected by another person and appeasing this by the thought “If that were me I would (fill in the gap)” And then change our behaviour to accommodate their disrespect or think of ways we may have caused this behaviour belittling our own feelings in the hope that our ‘thoughtfulness’ will influence and change the other person?
Well let me begin by stating a fact often missed. Let me enlighten you to something you may have never considered.
That person isn’t you! And it isn’t any of your business what that person could, should, may or may not feel. We think we are being empathetic and kind when we push ourselves out of the way to jump into their position and concern ourselves with their feelings but believe me that is not empathy or kindness. That is where we lose our sense of self. That is loss of self-power. That is your feelings come before mine and the home of you are more important than me!
I will not put myself in your shoes. Your shoes are your shoes. I don’t know what size you take or how comfortable or uncomfortable those shoes feel. I have no idea whether you are a wide fit or a narrow size foot. The truth is that your feelings are your responsibility not mine or anyone else’s. How presumptive is it in all honesty to really think that we can put ourselves in other people’s shoes?
Perspective is something that we don’t share. We all have our own personal, individual perspective shaped by peer group, upbringing, education, opportunities or lack of, and all sorts of socio-economic factors. Attempting in our righteousness to believe we have this power to put ourselves in other people’s shoes and know exactly how they feel or may think is in fact quite invasive, presumptuous, intrusive and delusional.
Growing up most of us are taught to put others first, to care so much about what others think of us. To listen carefully to what others think of us. We so desperately want others to like us due to this outside in belief that other people define us which contributes to the development of the very fragile ego.
This teaching has led us to believe at some level that we don’t matter.
Yes we will argue that we are important and that we do care about ourselves but through research, experience and specifically 1 on 1 sessions with my clients it has become very apparent to me that for a huge number of us this really is not the case. In some areas of our lives we may display great care and love for ourselves but in others not so much.
We are taught directly and indirectly that our thoughts and feelings do not matter and that they should come second to those of others. Directly and indirectly we are taught to deny ourselves very early on. Due to the upbringing that the majority of us had, our emotions are to be hidden and stuffed within and our own needs should be ignored as we constantly focus on everything outside of us to define who we are and what is right and wrong and we carry this programming with us into adulthood. ‘If he or she likes me I must be a good person’. ‘If they pay me a compliment I can feel good about myself’ or ‘If they don’t I must be unlikeable’. ‘ If I buy this Gucci/Prada/Balenciaga bag I have some value’ or ‘If I can’t afford to do what ‘they’ are doing I must be unworthy’.
Come to see that all focus is on the external. This demonstrates how easily we lose focus on ourselves and who we really are. How we begin the cycle of self-depreciation, self-hate, self-abuse, lack of self-knowledge or self-interest. Self, what is self? If I am defined by others I can only be who ‘they’ say I am!
If you can recognise this pattern in yourself I would like to encourage you that now is the time to take your power back.
There is absolutely no power in believing that you do not matter. There is absolutely no power in believing that everything is happening to you and what others think comes first. All of your power is in owning and accepting and caring 100% about yourself before ALL others. This is not Self-ish as we have been taught to believe but Self Love.
If I am busy thinking of what it’s like to be in your shoes. Who is taking care of me and making sure that my feelings and needs and shoes are filled and fit for walking?
Empathy is not taking on someone else’s pain and suffering. Taking on someone else’s pain only causes us to feel more pain. You CANNOT feel on behalf of someone else. You can however feel with them. And that is what empathy is. It is acknowledging a place inside of you that has been where that person is or has been and being able to look at that person and relate to and with them from that space. That is where true connection and empathy lies.
I want to encourage and empower you all to take back your innate power. You were born with everything you needed to be whoever and whatever it is you wanted to be. If it doesn’t seem like it then it is time to start taking back what was always yours. Follow me for future events on this topic.
If you would like to book a session with me to explore any of the topics discussed please get in contact or comment below.
Much love DW