I had a chat with my husband last night over this question – have I lost my empathy? The answer thankfully is no!
What prompted me to ponder this question is that I have made incredible inroads with my anxiety disorder. I no longer break down into an uncontrollable crying mess when others I love are suffering. This to me seems harsh and very cold because this is how I have previously gone through their dilemma with them. I was essentially “living” the horror with them and literally feeling the pain. Now I do understand that this reaction is not healthy, but when you stop feeling for them in this way, it somehow feels inadequate.
My husband was extremely proud of me and explained that what I was doing was in fact being strong, supportive and empathising as it should be done. So essentially, I understand the pain and what they are going through, but am identifying with them because I have felt the same or similar emotions that they are now experiencing. I am not engulfing myself within the emotional pain and making myself sick over how they must be feeling.
It was not only nice to hear what he had to say, but it also allowed me to broach another subject with him – the fact that I was worried I wasn’t providing enough support for him. Owning your own business can be very stressful at times and his stress levels can run very high. Once again, because I wasn’t overwrought with worry, it seemed to me that I wasn’t “being there” for him. That maybe I wasn’t sharing his pain as much as I should.
What a weird and wonderful thing an anxiety disorder is!
It’s a new and strange feeling being able to stand back from a problem, fully understand it and “feel” for the person without drowning in the emotions. It feels like I’m seeing things from a distance because I am no longer falling into my own inner slump….like standing on the outside rather than being in there gloves and all.
I think I like this, it’s kind of freeing. The strength and resilience within is liberating. Being able to set myself free from a problem and see it objectively, look for solutions and act on moving forward must be a step in the right direction. Have I lost my empathy, no, I’ve just become a better friend, mother and wife 🙂
Have you lost sleep over someone else’s problems?
Have you ever over invested in someone else’s pain?
Have you ever suffered from an anxiety disorder?