Seek Empathy, Not Pity

1.14.2016
Content via Aaron Wood
Source: 
Aaron Wood

I sometimes find myself lacking it. This is something I struggle with on almost a daily basis. It’s almost embarrassing to type and to think I actually feel this way, but I do. Maybe it’s because I don’t expect someone to empathize with my situation because they don’t understand it, as in not empathizing with me, but feeling bad for me.

The last thing I want is pity.

However, on a hypothetical note, I would hope someone realizes that complaining about a sore toe is minuscule compared to dealing with a spinal cord injury.  I mean, if someone has the audacity to complain their toe hurts walking when I can’t walk at all— It’s almost laughable. But, on the other hand, that hypothetical person is feeling pain and talking to me as my friend, but I’m hearing it as complaining.  The more I think about it, the more I doubt said person is even remotely trying to compare their pain to anything I’ve experienced.

See? Maybe I do get it. I guess it really depends on my mood and how I interpret a particular situation. I know that empathy is a normal human emotion, but it’s still something I need to work on. Maybe I’m not as bad as I thought. Wow, I think we just had a moment. Just kidding (kind of).

I took an empathy test and scored a 64%!  Giving me this result – “High empathy level. This means that you understand how other people feel in most cases. So you share their emotions and feelings.” Who would have guessed?  I’m not sure how much validity this test actually holds, but hopefully a lot because I want to be better at feeling empathy!  Click here to give it a try!

In the end, I think all of us, whether or not we have a disability, can benefit from practicing empathy.

My reactions to certain situations haven’t always reflected my desire to be an empathetic person. There are ways we can all appreciate each of us for our individual stories, challenges, and triumphs, even if they aren’t the same, all of us are looking for someone to be understanding, not pitying.

Just because I can’t walk, doesn’t mean I can’t be understanding of a friend’s painful toe. Getting frustrated is about as helpful as pity— ok so it doesn’t help anyone, but empathy is something that helps us be united as humans, no matter what we’ve gone through.

Share this post with someone who might benefit from practicing from empathy!

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