I Know How You Feel—The Practical Side
I know they mean well, but most of the time when I hear someone say, “I know how you feel,” or “I know exactly how you feel,” I shudder a little. I believe that as human beings there are many emotions we share as a race including love, joy, grief and fear. However, I also believe, that since we are all unique beings due to our diverse biology and different upbringings, none of us can ever know exactly how another feels.
Despite my personal dislike of the “I know how you feel” statement, there is a much bigger problem we are facing as a society and even a planet when it comes to feelings. Some researchers and scientists propose that we are losing our ability to experience high levels of certain emotions and specifically empathy.
Whether you blame technology and too much screen time, busy schedules or just an evolving society in which people tend to move more for work and be less tied to their communities, few people would argue that we are now a less connected and less grounded society. Sure, we are connected on social media platforms, but we no longer connect with one another as often as we once did face-to-face—in real time.
The result is that we feel lonelier, more anxious and more depressed. We are also losing our ability to be deeply empathetic. You see, you cannot care deeply about others if you don’t spend time with them. And we simply are not spending time with others as we used to. Merriam-Webster defines empathy as being able to understand the feelings of another but not necessarily sharing in them. It is different from sympathy, which is when you share the feelings of another.
The scariest thing about losing the ability to be empathetic is the negative potential it engenders to push people towards focusing almost solely on themselves. And when a person is focused only on themselves and overlooks the needs and humanity of others, things like greed, abuse, neglect, manipulation and anger have the opportunity to run rampant.
I will speak more to fostering feelings of empathy in the personal blog on this piece, but for now, consider the last time you experienced real empathy. How long ago was it? What was a result of your feelings? And now, for your next piece of homework, be empathetic with yourself. What are your emotional needs at this time? Are you dealing with depression, disappointment, anxiety or a major life stressor? Are you managing your life well or could you use the expertise of a seasoned Orlando mental health counselor? If you are in need of guidance, support or just some general self-care, please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment.