A friend recently shared an Instagram post that spoke of her reawakening into her True Self. I welcomed her home. I know how that feels.
As a person who lives life from a spiritual perspective, it is my understanding that we are more than just mind and body. Each of us belongs to a collective consciousness. And, the Universal language by which we are connected to one another is emotion. We all know fear even though different things may scare us. We all know love though it may come in different forms.
This is why we know empathy - the ability to physically and spiritually feel what another person is emotionally going through.
Imagine: 7.7 billion people feeling joy, hope, despair, fear, love, terror, regret, boredom, shame, all at the same time, 24/7. We are all tapped in.
Think of an apple orchard, trees laden with fruit, ready and ripe for the picking and experiencing. Some are sour, some are sweet. Some are hard, some are soft. Some are fibrous and hard to chew, others are mealy and dissatisfying. Some have worms. Every emotion is available at every moment of our lives. Which is why we can be madly in love AND feel profound grief at the same time. Life is nothing if not a beautiful, challenging contradiction.
I find it interesting that if empathy is the Universal tool of connection, why are we so insistent on denying the existence of "less desirable" emotions like anger and shame? We use terms like "toxic anger", likening it to an emotional Chernobyl, a nuclear wasteland to steer clear of. Lock the gates; don't let it in or out.
And, it seems to me, shame is our biggest and darkest collective open secret where the absence of empathy leaves us in a void, a vast black hole of alone-ness.
The result is that too many of us live through experiences of trauma and shame that we are not able to talk about and the effects of which we are unable to release through empathetic sharing. It's not that we don't understand your pain. The problem is that we do. In order to protect ourselves, not just from your pain but from our own (which, if you're following the theme, is one in the same), we distance and deny.
This is why we find it so easy to blame the victim and side with the perpetrator. If we can feel another's pain, it follows that we also know the feelings of the person who caused the pain. We intimately know both sides of the coin; we are both abused and abuser, bullied and bully. Sometimes, we are drawn to the dark side because it feels powerful and effortless, unlike the time we were hurt and were left feeling powerless and vulnerable. Empathy plays all sides of the emotion game. Like so many facets of life, it's a blessing and a curse.
We are both human and spirit and, in ideal circumstances, these two can work in partnership with each other and with every other living being. It's easy to lose sight of and faith in the essence that is Love, the overarching emotion from which we came and to which we continue to return, especially when life beans us with curve balls. But, it is exactly those times when we need connection the most, when we need to be reminded that we are all, 7.7 billion of us, truly in it together.