Yesterday someone very special to me was going through a very emotionally painful experience – and I grieved and cried throughout the day. I was not only sad because of the cause of her pain, but I was also feeling her pain. I don’t mean to diminish what she was going through by saying that I, too, was feeling it, but I have no doubt that my feelings yesterday were somehow mirroring hers, even though they might not have been at the same level of intensity. This, I know, is empathy -- the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another (dictionary.com). I’m not sure about the “intellectual” part – I’ve always thought of empathy as being ESP of the Heart and I’ve known, since I was a little girl, that it is strong in me.
I learned early that I cannot watch, read or hear about events that are painful, sad, demeaning – basically anything negative – without having my heart twist and turn with the horrible emotions I attributed to the victims of the painful, sad or demeaning experience. I soon realized that not everyone “felt” with the same level of intensity. Somewhere along the line I learned the word “empathy” and I clearly remember thinking, Yes, that’s me! Over the years I’ve come to believe that somehow I receive information – emotional information – in a way most people don’t. I think this is, perhaps, some sort of “gift”. As I write this, I’m thinking that some people will read it and say, “Wow! Debbie’s a little woo-hoo,” or “Debbie’s a little crazy.” I don’t think I’m crazy, though; although, isn’t that what all crazy people think? Anyway, I’ve given this a lot of thought over the years and I do believe that we all have ways of communicating that we simply don’t yet understand. Perhaps someday scientists will discover that there is, in fact, a mental radio signal that we all send out and that some of us are simply equipped with more sensitive signal-receivers. In the meantime, I will continue, as I have my entire life, to avoid that which causes me to feel undue discomfort. The problem is, there are times in life, like yesterday, when I cannot avoid the discomfort because it is happening to someone dear to me – it’s not a movie, book or news report. At those times I think of this “gift” of ESP of the Heart and I think…..This sucks!