Are you a terrible person if you are not naturally empathetic?

File:Empathy and the brain.png - Wikimedia Commons

Under the running water, I once again used my grey pumice stone to soften the rough callouses of my fingertips. I laughed bitterly, thinking how I roughen it up, and then soften it, and then do it all over again…wheeling myself in to cycles of skin abuse. Am I just setting up myself with false hope of improving from ongoing bad habits? I didn’t know this had a name to it: Excoriation disorder, repetitive behaviors of skin-picking.

It’s also that time of month of again. The red flow of certain pain, enhanced with an unplanned shot of the Booster. Everything has a name to it. Naming gives us this illusory sense of control.

Recently, peace has been elusive. But I was finally able to grasp onto it for a moment longer during a week off from teaching. The burning flood of negativity, ongoing headaches, spotty sleeping hours slowly came to a halt. God filled me with gratitude once more, and reminded me to take the time for mindfulness.

Mindfulness has taught me and my students to name emotions.

Today, I felt influxes of:

anxiety

peace

positive energy

joy

anger

jealousy

awkwardness

regret

shock

impatience

annoyance

impending doom of negativity…

fatigue

questioning empathy

This was a roughly the order of how each of these emotions went throughout my day. Today started out well, but each period sucked more positive emotions, until I’m struggling to hang on to positivity crumbs in my last period…and then on the drive home. I couldn’t contain or smooth over all my frustrations with my students. And then I’ve come to realize, that I couldn’t maintain the same positive energy for each period to teach and manage the same activities. I kept running out.

“Empathy” seems like a trendy concept that has been buzzing around lately. How much empathy can one hold? How much empathy can one gain? I feel this incredible pressure as a teacher to be model of empathy so I can connect with my students, but I fall short.

I need to refill and recharge positivity and empathy at a faster rate than using it up.

I need to slow down, so I don’t keep falling down the precipice of torturing dread.

Rest, wisdom, and efficiency, I call out to you.

2 thoughts on “Are you a terrible person if you are not naturally empathetic?

Add yours

  1. I have a very weird relationship with empathy. I don’t really empathise with ‘huge’ things like loss, but whenever I feel like I’ve made someone hate me, I’ll spend weeks just thinking about it. Anyway, thanks for sharing your perspective!

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