Empathy has always been a huge part of my life. In fact, my earliest memory of life is my first deeply empathetic experience.
I still remember it like it was yesterday. I was four years old, and my mother was taking us fishing for the first time. Being on the beach at sunset was thrilling. I could taste the salt in the air and the cool breeze was a relief from a formidable heat the day had brought along with it. Then my brother caught a fish and reeled it in, I saw it flapping wildly on the sand and gasping for air, and once I’d realized it was dying, I unleashed a monumental, earth-shattering tantrum on my family. I could not believe we were letting the fish die. I looked at my mother like she was a murderer, and she looked at me with disbelief at what was coming out of me. After that, she never took me fishing again.
I spent many years trying to figure out why I was so different to everyone else. The roller coaster of empathy was only exacerbated with the hormones that came in my teenage years. I even tried unsuccessfully to ‘switch it off,’ like my heart was a light switch. Ha!
Through my twenties, I began to see things a little differently. Whereas before, I thought there was something wrong with me, I began to realize was there was something deeply wrong with the world live in.
We are born deeply feeling people, it’s our upbringing and culture that changes us. Our natural state is one of feeling, depth, and connection, but our society does not design our lives to be lived that way.
It is terribly hard to exist in this world a feeling person. It takes hard work to not allow oneself to compartmentalize and numb life out.
Enlightened Empathy was born from a belief in the power of empathy to change the world. Not only is empathy our natural state, but it’s the glue that holds humanity together, and humanity currently needs holding together more than ever.