Empathy is a way of seeing the world and the people in it. Empathy I think is a way that our hearts are bent in order to better be people of love. It’s a way in which we can see people in all the beauty of their humanity, for what they were created to be. The best way to love someone is to seek to understand and know them deeply, which is empathy. The better we see their humanity, the better we can love.
Think of empathy as a vehicle that is moving along looking for destinations to love. There is two seats in this vehicle. One is Emotion, one is Thinking. There is only one steering wheel. They are both in the same vehicle, but one is doing the steering. For me, Thinking is the driver. Someone else might have Emotion as the driver. We all have empathy cars. We are seeking to love and love more deeply through empathy, but we might end up getting there a lot differently. Because we have different drivers, we might even be going in opposite directions to get to the same place.
This for me is where trust comes in. We need to trust that others are still in the same car that they always were. That even if I take the long way there going an entirely different way than them, that I am still in the exact same car. That even if we no longer can see each other on the road, that we are both still driving to the same goal. Part of empathy is precisely this way of seeing – it’s seeing everyone else as also being in a similar car.
I’ve spent a majority of my life developing my cognitive abilities in order to better articulate and express myself, and since I could place it it has always been in order to develop my love. I know that empathy is one of the best tools I have to love someone. I long to be a better lover. Now my cognitive abilities (and inabilities) have pointed out a massive blind spot for me, it’s that I haven’t allowed Emotion to do much navigating at all. I’ve sort of just let them come along for the ride but have made them shut up and sit silently beside me. I don’t trust Emotion. It’s only when Emotion tells me to go somewhere, that Thinking has already determined is appropriate will I acknowledge the emotional navigation.
I need to learn to let Emotion navigate my empathy car and stop letting Thinking do all the driving and navigating. I need others to trust though, that it’s still the same car and that it’s not a matter of having empathy or not, it’s a matter of allowing empathy to materialize in different ways and take the wheel more often or at least lead the thinking and tell it where to go.
What is terrifying to me, is that people that I would want to love in the world the most haven’t experienced it. This is my blind spot. Emotion was screaming at me so loud (fear, hurt, anger, sadness, anxiety) and Thinking was just saying to shut up and let me take this, he knew exactly where he was going. If only I would have listened to Emotion more and let him navigate then very likely my vehicle would have pulled right up next to someone else’s and been able to follow where they were going. This whole blunder of mine causes others not to be able to see me on the road or in a vehicle at all. Some others see me outside of the empathy vehicle entirely and in a Selfish Hummer instead with Thinker at the wheel driving drastically around going for joy rides.
Emotions and Thinking are like a fighting couple, where Thinker refuses to ask Emotion for directions and just drives around aimlessly trying and hoping to love and do the right thing, but stubborn in his belief that he’s “got this.” And I hope we can see that Thinker desperately wants the same thing, to get to the same destination, but he’s a bit full of himself and doesn’t think Emotion knows shit all about how to get there. Boy, does Thinker have a lot to learn.