depression, trauma : killers of empathy

Having suffered from depression for long periods earlier in my life, partly as a side effects of fibromyalgia, or chronic pain, partly as a pattern that has its roots in my childhood, I am now aware how much it was hard, and sometimes impossible, to be emphatic to anyone, even to myself, when I was in the mist of its swirling downward movement.

What I discovered, though, more recently, was that coming from a family where one parent was probably suffering from PTSD and the other from seasonal depression, – I write probably because in the early sixties there was almost no mention of mental illness in my environment, except to refer to the so called crazy people – it shouldn’t be a surprise that most of my siblings, and me, we are lacking emotional skills, and among them empathy.

Because, even though some of them might not have suffered from depression or trauma themselves, we were all exposed on a daily basis with dark visions of the world, self-centered claustrophobic fearful beliefs, dismissing and demoralizing toughs. What I call the culture of depression or trauma. A culture that became my way of living. To the point of saying that: That’s life. And not really expecting more out of it, or when I was, believing that I was fooling myself.

Except that, Life being Life, I was suffering from this lack of empathy. How couldn’t I?

Empathy is a game changer as an ability to sense other people’s emotions, to imagine what they might be thinking or feeling. How could I really relate to others without sensing what they are going through? Otherwise, it’s only a dry perception of my mind that will feed endless arguments. Not conversations between caring hearts. No, just I am right, you are wrong interactions.

Since empathy required deep listening, the capacity to stand still in the face of discomfort, cultivating it will change your brain pathways, reframing your perceptions, influencing your belief system, granting you the beauty of stepping out of the nightmarish culture you were caught up into.

At least, this was my experience. From which I can now say: Life is beautiful, even though She can be messy.


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