I love the word empathy, the ability to place yourself in someone else’s situation and see things from their perspective.
The world definitely needs more empathy. How many problems do you think we would be able to avoid both personally and globally if every single person was able to consider others situations and feelings?
Many confuse empathy with sympathy but there is a great difference.
Imagine you saw someone who was homeless. If you saw them and felt sorry for them then that’s sympathy, but to feel empathy you’d consider what it would feel like to be them in their situation; the cold nights, the rain, the loneliness, the fear and suddenly the need to help them and the appreciation for their situation becomes stronger.
I came across this artwork by Valerio Loi and I loved it:
I thought wouldn’t it be amazing if you could bottle empathy and pass it to someone who needed it? I soon found out that Valerio has created the same for love as well:
And I thought yes! The world would be perfect if you could bottle love and the best of emotions and pass them onto others. This picture is implying that they are injected, but perhaps spraying them a like fragrance would be nicer? Imagine walking up to someone, say…Donald Trump, and being able to spray love and empathy in his face, that would be great.
(If you want, you can see more of Valerio Loi’s work here)
As we all go through life we meet other people and learn about their life and the journeys that they have been through. The one thing that has surprised me the most is that people who always appear the brightest and warmest are normally the ones with the most surprising lives. People that I’d known for years would divulge details of their lives to me that revealed extreme illness or loss that I never knew about. It only emphasised to me the quote from Robin Williams:
‘Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.’
For me this also highlights the need for general empathy even more. Every person you meet requires consideration and thought. For example, if your boss is giving you a hard time one day and they are normally fine. Instead of thinking about how horrid they are, think that they may be having a rough day. They may be feeling ill. So instead of retaliating stay calm and maybe fetch them a cup of coffee to make them feel better.
This situation happened with me once. My boss rarely worked on site and he was a very nice man. But I had noticed that he was becoming more agitated. Granted, we had a lot of strict deadlines to meet and it was a stressful time. He phoned me the one day and was shouting down the phone at me… over nothing, I realised this was out of character for him. I spoke with my colleagues about it as I was concerned about him. One colleague thought he was just stressed but the other agreed with me that he was acting unusual, and we decided to keep an eye on him. We didn’t get the chance as he ended up having a mild heart attack a few days later. He was fine, don’t worry! But you can understand if I’d perhaps defended myself, things could have been a lot worse, and I would have never forgiven myself.
When you have epilepsy you find that people rarely have empathy for you and your life. Some people show you sympathy, some show you false sympathy and others display fear.
When you do find someone who can empathise with your situation, it’s easy to notice. This person accepts you, will not ask prying and insensitive questions. They are just there for you and appreciate the situation you are in. I know that I am far from alone in wishing people would have more empathy towards epilepsy, and this isn’t just about epilepsy, this is about any condition, disability or disease. People should be able to tell others about themselves without fear of judgements, stigmas or negative comments.
How many situations do you think would have been altered in your life if other people showed more empathy to you? Or you perhaps showed more empathy to them?
Thanks for reading!