No Pity Please

pity

Recently I was trying to explain the difference between empathy, sympathy and compassion to someone who obviously doesn’t feel any of these things when thinking about friends, family or the world at large.  

My conversation with this person wasn’t going well and it was on an afternoon where I didn’t particularly feel good to begin with, so my frustration levels were high.  My friend was complaining yet again about the circumstances of her life and at some point I couldn’t take it any more and said , “Please stop and look who you are complaining to” and she shot back “So you want me to feel sorry for you”.  I said the last thing that I want is your pity. I want your understanding and compassion for my situation, not your pity.

She was dumbfounded and didn’t know the difference and when I added that you are the least empathetic person I know, that really threw her.  I realized that at 50+ years old, she really didn’t feel for other people and other conversations started replaying in my mind about when she only cared about how events affected her well being and not the world at large.

I have been told at times that I am an extremely empathetic person and have always been criticized for that when I was in the workforce.  I would constantly put myself in other people’s shoes and really understand the predicament they were in.  I do it in life too, but it always came up as a negative on my performance reviews (but all my superiors were men and men as a group are generally less empathetic than women).  I never considered empathy a negative as I believe it makes me a very caring and understanding person.  It helps me get into the heads of people in my live and understand their actions and movements better. In my opinion, if you lack empathy, you have a deficit in understanding the emotional states of others.

So I’d rather be a feeling, considerate and compassionate person and care about my group of friends and family, as well as, the world at large, even if it causes me to worry at times for others.  I feel sorry for my friend as she is missing out on connecting on a much deeper level with people and the universe.  Maybe she isn’t really a friend, but just an acquaintance.  I wonder if she knows the difference between those 2 words…

 

For others who never thought about the difference between these words:

empathy

Empathy is the ability to mutually experience the thoughts, emotions and direct experience of others. It goes beyond sympathy, which is a feeling of care and understanding for the suffering of others. Both words have similar usage but differ in their emotional meaning.  Empathy invokes an understanding what others are feeling because you have experienced it yourself or can put yourself in their shoes.  Sympathy is acknowledging another person’s pain or hardships and providing comfort and assurance. Compassion is a very deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.

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Gone Fishing

gone fishing

 

I’ve been on a self imposed vacation brought on by Mother Nature’s ways and have been inside for the past 7 days.  I wasn’t at home and was staying with a relative and decided to check out from my everyday routine and pretend I was away for the week.

I gave myself a mental holiday, even though physically I wasn’t able to do much.  I must admit it was great to be out of my home for a week and to change my routine ever so slightly.  I had company 24/7, had someone to eat meals with and someone to hear whatever thought popped into my head when it did.  I had forgotten how nice it was to live with someone and have someone in the home with you.

I have lived by myself since 2006 when I got divorced.  I kind of felt like I was living alone for some of my marriage too, so really I have lived alone for a long time.  I had told myself that it was best that I did live alone because who would put up with my crazy and stringent rules for myself.  Resting after cleaning, resting after showering, resting, resting throughout the day.  There are so many times during the day I just need absolute quiet and can’t think of interacting with anyone.  I couldn’t imagine being around someone for so much time.

This week showed me that if I had the “right” someone perhaps I would be able to live with someone again.  It’s different when you are already in a committed relationship and become ill.  Your life partner should be there “in sickness and in health” and while a chronic illness does put a huge strain on the relationship, a truly compassionate and understanding partner will stick by you.

It’s a whole other story, when you meet someone when you are already ill.  They really don’t owe you the love and support you get from a partner in an established relationship.  I think it takes a very, very special person to fall in love and move forward in a relationship with someone who has a chronic, life long, debilitating illness.

I’m not saying these people don’t exist, but considering the dating scene for a healthy active individual and how hard it is to find someone late in life that you are compatible with,  it’s nothing short of a miracle to find someone when you are dealing with an illness.