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Emotions and Empathy
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | September 2018
The feelings of living come to life, pushing experience into a new aliveness. For some feelings are scary and they avoid deep contact with feeling experience. This not only limits their experience but interferes with connection to others.
Being in touch with the budding feelings of personal experience is essential before we can empathically relate to the feelings of someone else. If our own feelings are unacceptable, shunned and buried, we will also recoil at others’ pain. Any emotion threatens those afraid to feel.
Intimacy, closeness and security are constructed from the frightening vulnerability of emotion. But through empathy, we connect through shared experience. The thick walls of indifference begin to tumble. Suddenly, the selfish and cold experience of pretend logic loses its appeal for the warmth of aliveness. We must feel to empathize and connect.
If you suffer from this malady frightened by feeling, there are adaptive practices to introduce you to the rich world of feeling. Emotions don’t have to remain hidden in the greys and blacks of a protected world. We can change, opening our hearts to the colors we have missed. Our fears may prevent a quick dive into an unknown world.
We begin with gentle exposures, mindfully dipping in one foot at a time. Experiencing forgotten pains, and basking in present joys. As we allow quietness to weave its way through our psyche, gently touching on the feelings, without word or commentary, we open to the magical world of feeling. Inch by inch we discover a new aliveness—a world we overlooked, lost between the words. We first discover ourselves and then are ripe to discover others.