The Power of Empathy

I was talking to my mother on the phone earlier. I had uploaded some images from my camera to my computer, there were lots of old pictures on there, so I decided to scroll through them. And I was shocked!

What I saw was a me I didn’t recognise. My face was bloated, my smile was crushed and insincere, my facial expression unsatisfied to the core. I can remember that time very well, only a few months have passed since the day these pictures were taken. It was amazing how I felt my energy draining from my body, my mood suddenly changing from content to contemplative and grave. I could feel myself being in that situation the image presented me with. I could feel how unwell I felt, how my days were determined by a tremendously strong wish to end this all (not life, but this lifestyle I was leading). I wanted things to change but I couldn’t. I felt completely helpless and dictated by powers that didn’t lay in my hands.

In that period of my life, I ate without thinking, I chose to see the negative in life, I felt an enormously strong urge to have a boyfriend, I didn’t want to leave the house, I didn’t want to be exposed to social interactions. The bottom line is: I wasn’t myself.

I told my mum about this flashback. And what she answered was simply beautiful.

My mom tried to help me find out what had been wrong. I think I was eating that much because I was lacking social bonds. You know what people say: Even when you’re surrounded by many people, you can feel unbelievably lonely. And that is just how I felt! So I ate. I ate because I was emotionally stressed. Hach, stress, that son of a bitch.

Anyway, I didn’t only feel lonely and missed my family but furthermore I was still suffering from a break-up (that first major break-up, you know what I mean). After having said all this, my mom said, with a voice full of empathy: You suffered a lot. You suffered so long and so greatly. I could feel my body open up, I felt my heart being surrounded by warmth and love. It was beautiful.

Words and how we speak them can have an exceptional impact on the people around us. These words can change something. They have the power to make things clear to you. When we speak our words the way we feel them, we can truly shift perspectives of our dear ones.

I am a big advocate of giving a voice to feelings. What my mother did for me today was that she showed me how much I had suffered on the one hand, but on the other hand she always directed my view on how much better I am now, how much I’ve grown over the past few months. How I stepped from the passive into the active mode.

Make use of your feelings, utilise them for making other people and yourself feel better. And most importantly: Be empathic with yourself. You deserve to be understood. Don’t be to hard on yourself and others.

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in the position of someone else. We all have the ability. But we’re using it too rarely. Empathy is a gift, it makes you understand people who might act in a way you first don’t understand. But by trying to see yourself in the situation another person is experiencing, we might understand why that person is acting the way they are acting. And we might see that their comment wasn’t meant to hurt.

Choose to see the positive.

I love being empathic, I hope you do too.

Goodbye dreamer,

Josephine

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