Today I thought I would blog about something which has become very important to me and that is the value of empathy. Many of people think empathy and understanding are the same thing, but in reality we cannot fully understand what it is like to live or experience something unless we are the person him/her. Empathy however, is the ability to put ourselves in someone else's shoes, see things from another perspective, that of someone who has lived through the experience.
My boyfriend Matt calls me his wise owl, because I've had a wealth of experiences in life, I've gone through some quite difficult and challenging times, but hopefully tried to do something positive with them by helping others. If you've read my previous blogs I talk about day to day challenges and the ups and downs in life dealing with dyspraxia and quite bad anxiety/social anxiety. I have also discussed issues such as bullying, social isolation and the impact they can have on someone: for me it meant I hit rock bottom and struggled with self harm. But do all I can do others don't have to go through that.
There are also private struggles which I've been through and experienced which never may make this blog, but all have shaped me as a person in some way. Although it's been tough, especially anxiety wise, they have also made me have a deep sense of empathy for others as well as making me stronger/more determined I hope in the long run. Through these blogs I write and the awareness work I do, I hope something positive comes out of them and if they help one person writing them will always be worth while.
From a social anxiety perspective, it can take me a while to feel comfortable, to lift my protective walls and come out of my shell. It can take a while for me to be understood .
Meeting new people and going into new places can be challenging. Then add into the mix my brain wiring and slower processing of information and the world around me due to dyspraxia/dyslexia. This makes me try to be as patient and reassuring as I can be with others who, for whatever reason, find social situations difficult.
When people take the time to get to know me, I try and give back in gratitude. When you to take a lot longer to be able to complete tasks or be able to face a fear, it makes you have a lot more patience and tolerance for others, as you know too well how frustrating it can be.
It can also make you more non judgmental and open minded, you never know what private battles or struggle people might be facing behind closed doors. Issues such as: mental health and difficulties/ disability should never be a competition, everyone has their unique journey and their own story in life and lived life differently. Everyone faces something in their life which shapes them. Everyone is different and deals with these differently. My boyfriend Matt for example: is a very private person and is a closed book.
My self esteem and confidence has always been a struggle alongside my anxiety, both of them can be quite easily knocked. But, I also know too well how much the little things which people say and do can make you feel about yourself and give you a little boost and strength and to keep going, and help to build someone up. Helping someone celebrate their little achievements is key as it can help give them the confidence to build on these. In my last blog I talked about how Mollie inspires me and her kind words help me. I was fortunate to meet her last week and her own empathetic nature gave me a little boost.
Empathy can also mean different things to different people. what might be reassuring and encouraging to one person might not help someone else. Which is why it's important to take a bit of time to get to know someone and listen and see what might help them. I've seen this Brene Brown video on empathy and it's well worth a watch.
I will always be grateful to those in my life who have been supportive and encouraging especially, over the last few months which have been quite challenging for me anxiety wise. I hope if you're reading this you know who you are, it's meant a lot to me:) The world would be a boring place if we were all the same!
Until next time...