Empathy

The ability, I would say, of being able to walk in another person’s shoes. While they are wearing them.

Super important. Offers the bearer a clearer perspective.

Having and deploying empathy is complicated and some times daunting emotional work.

I would even venture to say that it is somewhat impossible to have empathy when dealing with other people when you are living on the fast lane. Meaning, when you don’t have the time to stop and question things — when you are running on autopilot.

I can liken it even to when you are driving — actually picture yourself driving — to Cape Town at about 180 kilometres per hour. At this speed, it is very difficult to notice and appreciate nature’s beauty on the sides of the road. You will only see grotesque woods emanating from the ground with funny shaped greeny things covering them.

They are trees simply because you have seen them before.

These ones you are passing while hurtling past at incredible speed, though, you cannot appreciate. You cannot see what makes them different from all the other trees you have seen in the past.

Having empathy, then, is a rather difficult thing to do. It means that we have to step out of ourselves if we are connect with and help other people.

Empathy. The ability to get a sense of what another person needs and feels before they even tell you so.

Some would say it is unfair and somewhat impossible to sense that. That the person in need of anything should say that and not expect others to “sense” that they have a problem.

I would say it is not that difficult to do. But what makes it impossible is empathy’s requirement that if you are have it, you need to be patient and gentle and thoughtful.

Be slow on certain things so you can find the time to see things for what they really are.

And deal with them as they ought to be dealt.

It is a poetic concept to talk about. Empathy. But very difficult to have it manifest.

Hence, I think, it is hard for many people to be kind. Care; and express care. Caring makes you emotionally vulnerable — exposed. Susceptible to being manipulated because there are emotions involved. And you have yours switched on. You are susceptible to being hurt.

Caring, then, is not the safest thing to do.

And often, we opt for the safest possible bet.

There are no surprises then, with regard to empathy’s scarcity.

Because — think about it — taking a stroll in another person’s shoes — while they are wearing them — is a bit of an arty thing to pull off. Not to mention difficult. Or ‘impossible’.