In Understanding You

Health, Philosophy, Psychology, Social

Empathy is was makes you human. The ability to process other’s emotion and understand the source of their behavior is what advances society. When people are mean, domineering, and bullies, you search for a reason why, trying to figure out the reasoning behind being treated that way. Usually, it’s clear: those who are unhappy are mean. Those who are domineering are ashamed of who they are. Those who are insecure are bullies. Yet for some reason, when these traits are in the people you love, you find yourself defending them.

People are complex and emotional creatures. The battle for balance between thinking and feeling is dangerous to tread upon. Society has taught us that making decisions based on emotion verses logic is wrong, and in many instances, this is true, particularly when acting upon negativity. Working when stressed leads to making mistakes. Talking when angry comes out the wrong way. There are reactions you regret you did because you were trapped in a negative state of mind. Still, there are moments when your emotions are right because you decided based on a “gut feeling” rather than what you believed to be the most rational.  

Empathizing with others helps you learn to regulate your own emotions. Emotional regulation is important in that it allows you to manage what you are feeling, even in times of great stress, without becoming overwhelmed.

Importance and Benefits of Empathy By Kendra Cherry

The difference in these two decisions making processes in people is categorized in the following: Thinkers and Feelers. As in the name, thinkers value logic whereas feelers are ruled by emotion. Neither one is better than the other and they do in fact overlap. For instance, thinkers have deep emotions they aren’t particularly expressive about, and feelers think rationally too, using their understanding to base new opinions.

Given this information, half of the people you know and love have a completely different way of looking at things than you do. Often, these differences can lead to misunderstandings based on individual perception of how one should act. For instance, you may be a man who fully embraces his emotions and expresses them freely as they come, or you may be a girl who hides her true feeling because she’s unable to convey herself in coherent way. Many people you’ll experience in your life won’t understand the way you process emotions. Some might say you’re difficult to read, others might think you’re too dramatic.

When your mind is so busy with negative thoughts about you, then you don’t have the space to really be present for another person. Often people think they are empathetic but when you consider what are you thinking about when you are listening to the person, you may find that you are busy thinking about you.

The Importance of Empathy By Julie Fuimano

Understanding the people around you may in turn help you understand yourself. You may not know the root of every action, the cause behind every word, but you may come to realize the image you projected onto those you know aren’t who they fully are. This is particularly true with those who have destructive tendencies and toxic traits. Some people are mean because they have had a tough upbringing that haunts them for the rest of their lives. Others aren’t even consciously registering that their behavior is selfish. This doesn’t validate their behavior, but can help you accept that it isn’t your fault.

You get caught up in the image you hold in our mind, that you forget to look at the truth. You have flaws, broken bits, and issues you don’t want anyone to know about it. Next time, when someone does something that upsets you, take a step back and contemplate why they did what they did, what did you do to cause the situation to play out the way it did. Understanding will help you forgive, and forgiveness is what helps you move on.

You’re Not Crazy

Health, Psychology

Time is a thing we can’t wait for, but travels by us so fast. Look, half the year is already over. You don’t feel different, except the ache in your knees and kink in your shoulders. Your consciousness is still young, you have all the time in the world. There are days when you want to sink into your bed and stay there, yet you don’t want to give up on life because there are dreams you want to make come true. You feel guilty because you see everyone else who’s worked hard for what they want, achieved it, and here you are, still trying to be better than your current self.

When you were younger, you wanted to be someone else. Every year, you’d think it that it was the year everything would be different. You’d be a different person, a better version as you waited for some inanimate thing in the future to somehow miraculously change you. Nothing changed, and everything stayed the same. You forget that your thoughts, your narrative and opinions can be flawed, because where you live, inside your head, is your own, and of course, it must be right.

You’re tired of trying to be positive all the time. You’re tired of putting on a smiling face and asking menial questions about other people’s boring life. There are certain people that you love, but most everyone else, you could care less if you never saw them again.

It’s okay.

Acceptance is a mindset, an approach of giving ourselves permission to experience our emotions and taking the perspective that they’re human rather than silly, weak, crazy, wrong, dangerous, or beyond our power to ever be able to manage. 

The Irony of Emotional Acceptance by Holly Parker, Ph.D.

It’s okay to feel sad, unmotivated, antisocial, and guilty. It’s human to find days miserable, despite all the fortune you have. It’s normal to be selfish. Not every day is going to be a good day. Not every week or month you’re going to be achieving all that you want to achieve. One day, you could be on top of the world, inspired by life itself, the next, you could be sitting on your couch, avoiding sleep because you know that it means work tomorrow.

Everyone preaches positivity. Everyone tells you that if you look at the brighter side of things, then you’ll be happier. There are countless articles, books, and words of advice on how to be a better version of yourself because the current you isn’t good enough. While these words of wisdom hold truth to them, they also can make you feel worse. Like it’s your fault for not being happy. It’s all within your power to change your emotions.

“Whatever your own experience of sadness, remember it is part of being human and allows us to recognize and value the contrast between feeling happy and sad.  We need these contrasts in order to recognize our own vulnerabilities and those of others and to be able to appreciate our gains and losses.”

Why It’s Good to Feel Sad by Atalanta Beaumont

You don’t want to accept that you can’t control how you feel. Your logic convinces you that those emotions of sadness, anger, and pain are unreliable. You learn not to trust yourself because you’re constantly being questioned why you feel what you feel and told that you can “reframe your paradigm.” Emotions aren’t completely right. Some emotions spring from a misunderstanding, others resurface and morph into another feeling. While all that’s happening, you can’t forget that your emotions are valid.

Regardless of why you feel what you feel, or what caused that emotion, you’re allow to feel that way. Don’t push it away. The more you push away, the more will show up later in life. Instead, let that wave of emotion rush over you, consume you, then pass like a storm. That makes it go away. Once you’ve felt what you’re body wanted you to feel, then analyze it, try to understand what caused it, and decide if it was right or not. You can’t avoid from feeling, and like the weather, you can’t predict when you’re going to feel a certain way. What you can do is let it run its course and self-reflect. No matter how close anyone is to you, they’re not in your head. It’s you, and only you.

Shame on All of You

Health, Psychology

It’s hard for humans to communicate. We spend all day talking to each other, but how often do you say what you’re really feeling? Either you spend your time thinking of various ways to express your emotions, or you don’t express them much at all. You put on a smile and nod, playing pretend in a superficial world where it not only matters how much better looking you are than others, but also how cool and smart you are. So, it all makes sense. When you point the finger at someone else, when you’re angry at the world for wronging you, when you ask yourself, Why don’t they like me? That you feel shame.

Shame is an incredibly painful and self-deprecating emotion. Shame hurts so deep that for some, it goes unnoticed. The thing is, just because you ignore an emotion, doesn’t mean it goes away. If you ignore shame, it will project onto others because having someone to blame for why you feel shame provides a false sense of control and superiority. The emotion is still there.

If the shame remains unacknowledged, a person may decide to focus on another emotional state, an act of emotional substitution. For example, a shamed person, unwilling to acknowledge the feeling of shame can become angry with someone else, making other a kind of scapegoat for self-blame. […] By not focusing on the shame and attending to other emotions, we lose the opportunity to understand the forces at work around us and within us.

5 Factors That Make You Feel Shame by Shahram Heshmat Ph.D.

In a previous article, I talked about how shame can cause hubristic pride, believing yourself as better than others, acting as if they were inferior. This pride is a coping mechanism for shame. You wonder where all this shame comes from. When you were a child, there were times you make a mistake or forgot to do something. Instead of focusing on the action or how it affected the people around you, your parents would tear down your self-worth. That’s a stupid thing to do. You don’t listen. You’re going to fail if you don’t do this correctly.

Still, it’s not just your upbringing. Shame is also related to your self-confidence and your need for control. It’s natural, the urge for some type of control over out lives. We want to know a reason. We want solve problems. We want control, and shame is unfortunately a byproduct of that. Because when you blame yourself for why bad things happen to you or why people treat you poorly, you think that you can fix it by changing yourself. Controversially, if you’re someone whose manifested your shame into pride, you’d blame everyone else for the painful feelings of shame you feel, and spite them because that’s how you’re able to control your emotions.

When we feel shame about something we’ve done, we’re probably much more reticent to speak about it or acknowledge it in such a way that we can rectify our mistakes. Guilt, however, is much more of an actionable emotion—when we feel guilt, we are more motivated to undo any damage we’ve done or try to make up for our errors.

Strong Leaders Experience Guilt Without Shame by Suzanne Degges-White Ph.D.

Many people transpose shame and guilt. The main difference is that shame is about one’s self, whereas guilt is the result of your actions unto others. A person who feels shame from an action tears at their core thinking, I’m stupid, I’m lazy, I’m not good enough. As person who feels guilt about their action thinks about others, I let them down. I made them feel bad. Sometimes, you can feel both shame and guilt.

There is no way to prevent these emotions from flooding into our mind, they are every bit as necessary to our psyche as happiness and pleasure. Don’t ignore these emotions. Understand them, work through them, know why you feel that way. Allow yourself to feel the pain of shame and guilt. Let it flow over you and dissolve, like most other emotions. There are things you can and cannot change. You can’t control everything, but you can work on understanding yourself, and why you feel the way you do, especially when you don’t like it.