To what do you pay attention? I pay attention to my physiological urges (eat, sleep, sex, breathe, poop, etc), my loved ones, political news, tech news, music, exercising trends, and the list could go on and on.
But, the thing I pay attention to most of all, is what I’m doing to make the world a better place. As it turns out, my blog is aptly named. The thing is, I pay attention to it so much that I don’t understand how it seems that others do not. Not that I feel like I’m more aware or enlightened by any means, I just have this overinflated sense of empathy and it just makes life much more stressful.
For instance, earlier today, I saw a terrible car accident. Four cars were involved in a pile up and it didn’t look horrifying…
But, it was still pretty bad. Paramedics were rushing to the scene. I later expressed to my lady companion (girlfriend just sounds too immature) that stuff like that can really ruin my day. She informed me that what I had witnessed was indeed terrible, but it shouldn’t ruin my entire day.
Which is true. It shouldn’t.
I could just send a prayer or positive thoughts their way and be thankful that I’m still safe. However, I don’t. I do those things, but then I still can’t help but feel every emotion I’d feel in that situation. The thoughts make my stomach turn and I get stressed and feel bad for quite a long time.
Having an overinflated sense of empathy means you’re probably a people pleaser as well (something I mentioned I’m working on in an earlier post) and it kills you inside to have someone feel disappointed in you.
It’s this trait that makes me feel bipolar at times.
Driving on the highway an impatient selfish PRICK will cut me off and I’ll be upset for one moment and the very next moment I feel bad and think thoughts like..
“What if his wife’s having a baby?”
“What if her husband’s sick?”
“What if that person just had a really bad day?”
And I sympathize and stop being upset in the very same instance.
Well.. what if they ARE just a jerk? I say, “so what?”
You see having a lot of empathy means your attention tends to be externally focused. How can I make the world a better place? How can I help people? How can I help the environment? How does one stay happy while simultaneously making the world happy.
The problem with this is, you can’t figure out why others’ attentions aren’t similarly focused. Thus, when you’re taken advantage of it hurts… A LOT. I suppose it hurts regardless of who you are, but when you’re always thinking of others it just feels unjust.
And here it is, the problem with being empathetic all of the time and spending your attentions trying to make things better is…
You ALSO end up with an overinflated sense of… entitlement.
You see, when YOUR attention is outward most of the time and you realize someone else’s attention isn’t. It hurts when you’re overlooked. Because YOU’D never overlook anyone. It hurts when someone is inconsiderate. Because YOU’RE not that inconsiderate.
The problem is, it FEELS like people are being inordinately rude towards you. When in reality, they’re just treating you like they treat everyone else.
I guess I’d just like to find my balance. How can I be idealistic and realistic at the same time? And is it any use being an idealist in a world that’s…
– Brandon Holly –