Applying Empathy

I am learning to be more empathic. I have, for various reasons, grown up with a focus on self-reliance and independence, at the expense of building connections with others. The solution to this is to start to act more empathically, thinking of others over mysel.f

I’ve been trying this a lot, and today was a good example I thought I’d jot down.

I was in a cafe with my wife. It was very busy and a lot of used mugs etc was left on the tables as the staff weren’t keeping up. My wife and I sat at a table and I cleared the table onto a tray and took it to the counter. The guy behind the counter seemed surprised and thanked me.

When we left, I decided to clear up our stuff and once again take it to the counter. The guy again thanked me quite profusely.

This act could be seen as so trivial and probably second nature to many, but to put this in perspective, my default response to this situation would usually to take a very non-personal, entitled approach, simply thinking that this is a company who should be delivering a service and it is not for me to do their job clearing things away. It is a harsh view on the world that I have grown comfortable taking as it makes me feel I’m more in control. However, if I see past the corporate stance and actually remember that there are people underneath, just like me, and think about them instead of me, I can act differently.

I’ve been trying to be more empathic in everything I do. I’m being a kinder driver – letting more people out and not being pushy (quite an achievement in London!). I have been asking people more about how they are and trying to remember what’s going on in their lives and bearing it in mind when I address them. I guess it is basically a question of prioritising how a situation affects other people, rather than how it affects me.

How does this relate to my addiction? The theory goes… if I act empathically towards others, I will start to form better connections with others and start to fill the hole of human connection that I was using porn to ignore and mitigate against. I am distant in my life, which leads me to acting out, which makes me more distant, and the cycle continues. I am now breaking the cycle by reawakening an empathic perspective that will help me face the world and stop trying to distance myself and escape from it.

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One comment

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