Empathy and Impermanence


Ahhh, empathy. A gift and a curse. Sometimes I think I would give just about anything to be the kind of person who could walk through their day without noticing how people around them are feeling. That’s not a trait I was blessed with. No, I encounter one sad, aggravated, or impatient person and I embody those emotions for… umm… too long to admit, unless I work really hard to avoid it. It’s why I am super selective about who I spend time with and probably also why I love Zach’s usually extremely positive attitude. It does have it’s benefits, I will say. For example, I always know when something is bothering someone and can choose whether or not I want to try to help… just kidding! Ok, no I’m not.

Honestly that’s part of the problem with being sensitive to other people’s emotions. If I can tell something is bothering someone who I am (voluntarily or forcibly) spending time with, I will basically do one of two things: try to talk it out with them to make them (and me) feel better, or avoid it at all costs but end up feeling like garbage all day from absorbing their negativity. I’m also absolutely terrible at hiding my own emotions. Never have been good at that social skill. So, this normally doesn’t end well for me.

“What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know, what’s wrong with you?”

*cue unnecessary argument over nothing*

Something I have realized in my quest to not let other people’s shit annoy me is that one bad thought during the day can easily snowball into a totally bad day. For example, when I encounter that one pissed off mom on the road on the way to work in the morning it can lead to me being pissed off that I keep hitting all the red lights. Then I’m annoyed that I didn’t get to work at the time I wanted. Then the computer won’t let me log in… you see where I’m going. That one bad thought just compounds into a multitude of bad thoughts and then you’re sucked in and you’ve gone too far to come out of it. This works for sadness, annoyance (oh god, this one gets me really good), and anger. I feel like this is how a lot of people end up being miserable all of the time. It’s hard as hell to crawl out of the hole once you’re in it.

This is where impermanence comes in. It is a beautiful, beautiful thing. I was doing a class on Alo Moves with Dylan Wener on Monday after spending the morning on the beach. He was talking, just like I am now, about how everything is impermanent. How you can’t try to hold on to a breath forever (duh, you’ll be dead), but you have to let it go in order to take another one, then let that one go, and so on and so forth. How absolutely nothing is meant to last. You can’t keep anything, so you have to learn to take it as it comes and accept it as it leaves.

Relating that to this past week in my life. Let me preface this by saying I totally suck at all of this, but I’m working on it every day. Big dreams. Hokay, I had a rough week. There are lots of different factors there but that’s what it boils down to. Saturday and Sunday were super busy but also very exciting and fun and a lot got accomplished. I finally got the outdoor shower of my DREAMS. Monday I was off and got to completely slooooow down and take some time for myself. Today – back to work. I started catching myself getting annoyed at stupid little things today and trying desperately to catch that feeling I had yesterday after spending the morning on the beach. It’s like I was trying to trap that good feeling, which was all fine and dandy until I realized I can’t feel like I just left the beach when I’m at work. It’s definitely not a thing, and guess what? That’s okay.

Think about the best day you had in the past year. I immediately think of a day Zach and I spent in the Outer Banks in August. Think about the worst day you had in the past year. I go straight to the day the car crashed into my work. Now think about where you are right now in this moment. Laying in my bed, dog sleeping with his butt pressed into my side, Zach outside working on the van. I don’t feel anything from either of those days. I don’t mean that in a good or a bad way, it’s just that those things are memories now. Just like I can’t hold onto that amazing day, I also can’t cling to that shitty day when a car almost killed all of us. Everything is temporary. Nothing is forever. Things come, then things go, inevitably.

Accepting this is no easy feat. But keeping it close can be powerful.

Go outside and feel the sun on your face. Really live in that moment of lightness and enjoy the absolute shit out of it. Let it become a beautiful memory. Then – let it go. It seems sad at first, but then you get to do it with the garbage stuff too, and it becomes a little sweeter. When the really hard-to-please customer comes in and you get stuck with them it’s a little easier to give them just a little bit of love and positivity knowing that when they’re gone you don’t have to dwell on it for the rest of the day. You don’t even have to talk about it ever again if it helps. It’s over.

Practice being unattached. What the people around me are doing, feeling, or talking about does not have to become what I am doing, feeling, or involving myself in. I am unattached. Of course, things will still be annoying, but learning to let that feeling of annoyance come, honoring it for what it is without trying to rationalize it, and letting it go… Damn, that feels good. Something I’m also still learning – not everything has to be overanalyzed. Let. That. Shit. Go.

As for the good stuff, let it come, embrace it, be thankful, but also don’t try to take it with you where it doesn’t belong. Not only is that diminishing what it was in the moment, but it simply doesn’t fucking work. Everything is temporary. Nothing is forever. Things come, then things go, inevitably.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *