Will You Choose Empathy?

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

I thought that I came here to talk about skinny shaming but what I really want to talk about is the need for us to have more empathy for each other’s pain. I think that sometimes we are so consumed with our own pain that we temporarily forget everyone experiences pain, too. We are not unique in feeling shame, embarrassment, and judgment even though it feels like someone else who has never walked in our shoes could never understand. I still have the emotional scars from being called Olive Oil, Bean Pole, and yes, anorexic.

Maybe we spend too much time comparing the details of the pain rather than the pain itself. One person’s pain is not greater or less than because it’s not talked about as much in pop culture. Many people don’t even talk about their pain so how could we possibly know. And who goes around doing pain measuring contests.

It reminds me of a scene from one of the Lethal Weapon movies (Did I just age myself?) where Riggs and Lorna were comparing battle wounds from their careers as detectives. You were hurt. We get it. The irony with them sharing their battle wounds is that they fell in love with each other. I’d like to think that it was because they moved from comparison to empathy causing them both to see each other as more than just their pain points. They saw each other as people who survived traumatic experiences in their own personal lives. 

What would the world look like if we didn’t try to “out pain” each other and actually listened to how we connect? I try my best not to jump on social media posts to share opposing views because it usually turns toxic pretty quickly and I am not wasting a therapy session on a social media post that I could have avoided. Fortunately, when I agreed with someone that our pain was not the same but still valid, she understood. The details of my story were not the same as hers yet she was still able to connect with the lasting effects. 

Honestly, I was bracing myself for a battle but she turned to empathy ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Who knew that was possible? Seriously, though. I appreciate the fact that the one person who I responded to was the one who chose empathy because I felt seen and heard. Turns out that I missed a few words in her post and our experiences were similar but what if she continued to defend her point? What if she hadn’t chosen empathy in her response? That would have been a full therapy session.

That stranger on social media may never know her impact on my growth that day but I hope her act of empathy helps you to consider how yours can impact others. 

I know that this one is short today but I know that the weight of it can fill your heart and mind. Let’s stretch. How do you feel about trying to empathize with someone whose pain is not similar to yours? Let’s chat.

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