It’s 1:42 AM when I decide I want to know why I‘ve always felt so empathetic with others, and the specific way I feel it. Why I could never just accept the fact that someone is a label, whether it be ‘crybaby’, ‘*******’, ‘narcissist‘, or whatever the case may be.
I wanted to become a forensic psychologist for a while. I have a deep curiosity to understand how there are people in this world that are so psychologically damaged that they find pleasure in the pain and/or death of others. What made me even more curious was how there are people in this world too close-minded to understand the pain, the metamorphosis they went through to bring themselves to these acts, and why isolation in padded or cement cells and hands bound by chains is not helping them.
This interest stemmed from, I think, the emotional abuse of an immature boy that kept me on an invisible leash, tugging with ease, only loosening when he felt like looking me in the face. It baffled me so: how could someone treat the one who helped them through every hardship — who pulled them up from rock bottom over and over again — like a nagging mosquito? How was I everything he searched for in everyone else, and nothing to him at the same ******* time? Thinking about it like I used to makes my head hurt all over again, but this is what I’ve always done. I always know the why’s are so much deeper than just the surface.
The internet luckily gave me the name of this concept: Cognitive Empathy, which is considered to be the more advanced part of the empathic process, is having a consciousness of the need to imaginatively put oneself in the place of others in order to genuinely understand them, which requires the consciousness of our egocentric tendency to identify truth with our immediate perceptions of long-standing thought or belief. This trait correlates with the ability, called Perspective Taking, to reconstruct accurately the viewpoints and reasoning of others and to reason from premises, assumptions, and ideas other than our own.
And finally, the pieces came into place, to form this epiphany that struck me this early morning. I have never whole-heartedly hated someone, even though I may say I hate a particular wrongdoer. It’s awesome and tricky at the same time.
It’s awesome because I can stand up to close-minded people and say “well hey, they went through this and this, or grew up this way, and this is a possible explanation - not an excuse - to why they did or said this”. This makes the person [hopefully] sit and think, and maybe become a little more compassionate towards others. I’m not saying people should become doormats, but to take everything into consideration before judging or screaming in their face. Everyone drags their proverbial sticks and bindles around, so if you know them personally, how could you not be more compassionate knowing what’s in it?
The revelation explains the not-awesome part as well: because I can put myself into others shoes and understand where they’re coming from, I tend to forgive too easily, and too many times. I can be very selfless and spread myself thin, damage my own psyche in the process of not wanting to hurt others. Now that I know I have high cognitive empathy, perhaps I can research and talk with others to help me find identify the red flags, the not-so-obvious bright colors before the toxins set in and eat me alive.