First Weekend of 25 in Change – Psychological Empathy

First Weekend of 25 in Change – Psychological Empathy

Its day 6 and my famous red cup and water bottle have become my loathed best friends. I love them because they keep me going, and loath them because they are the last thing in the world I want.  I’m only a week in and it’s been extremely interesting to not only self evaluate my physical being but my psychological being.

When we started we were challenged to keep an eye on our psych and watch changes in our behavior.  Not thinking enough into it time I now understand why we were asked to do that – for me this is where the true empathy is coming from.  While I cannot image what it would be like to live a life of starvation, I am truly starting to scratch the surface of understanding what physical poverty is like and why its a downward spiral.  Anyone in desperate need of help, needs just that, help.  However if you cannot help yourself the only place that help can come from is other people. The catch 22 is that when you are physically impoverished your first and natural reaction is to go into seclusion avoiding contact with other, and thus ultimately decreasing any if not all your chances to receive support.

I am more an extrovert than an introvert but during this time it has really challenged me to be in large groups, social settings, or the like – I’m becoming an introvert, not that that’s bad, just crazy for me.  The true question is why?

What I have personally found is that when you cannot participate fully with others in activities that are outside your means (even just food and drinks) the desire, pleasure, and joy of doing those things or being in those situations is dramatically reduced.  I would say to the extreme that you no longer not only don’t enjoy them but you intentionally avoid them.  (If you remember this is one of the things I will be fighting for on my journey – finding joy in the midst of all situations despite my challenge – it’s a work in progress to say the least) This is then fueled exponentially further as strangers and your friends and loved ones begin to treat you slightly different. They love you undoubtedly, however they cannot fully understand what you are going through and because of their sympathy for you they begin to act slightly different in an effort to protect you because of their deep love for you.  What ends up happening is that they avoid topics on food or drink, avoid eating in front of you, or they themselves feel bad for doing so and thus create some sort of unintentional barrier between you.  Therefore your natural response to want to be secluded is then fueled by the gasoline of those you come in contact with not fully understanding how to embrace you or be around you as they normally would.

This physiological empathy has really hit me and its absolutely no fault to anyone I come in contact with but rather a natural human emotion/reaction.  Its the same reason your heart breaks for the homeless mother on the side of the road – you want to give her money but have none on you.  So, instead of rolling down your window or pulling over and having a short conversation with her you keep your window up because you feel terrible that you have no money to offer her – thus ultimately reinforcing her natural instincts to go into seclusion.

Humans need relationship more than they need money that’s the big lie our society believes.  It’s the reason the homeless mother is still on the streets, its the reason Haiti has received more relief money than any country on the planet yet still remains one of the most impoverished.

Money doesn’t solve problems people do, we need people in our lives, we need community!

~Kenn Kelly

For more information on this there is an incredible book on this called When Helping Hurts that I highly recommend everyone to read.