If I were a box of crayons, in nineteen ninety-five mine would have had two choices, black and white; the black one, symbolic of all the darkness and disorder I embraced was almost used up, broken, blunt, with teeth marks and missing the paper, while the white one, a pristine example of abandoned light and happiness still lingered, brand new, an annoying reminder of what had been lost. My talent for expression (as a pseudo-adult) was limited to say the least. By the time I had reached the age of twenty-three, I’d completely embraced apathy. What was once a bright assortment of choices, at least from an emotional standpoint, seemed lost beyond reclamation. I was incorrectly convinced my variety of sixty-four shades I’d so generously made use of as a child existed only in my past. I had no idea I still owned them; they’d just been left in a dusty room, long forgotten. Scribbled on the door of that room, in the colorful handwriting of a child, was the word “Love”.
When I finally took steps to rebuild my life from scratch and leave my self-destructive lifestyle behind, one of the biggest challenges facing me was a need to connect with and start expressing abandoned and rusty emotions. As my body and spirit slowly reconstructed, I picked them up one by one, practicing with each for a time, and methodically refilled my supply. Eventually my pictures returned to vibrant variety. Not only that, they were better than ever. I began taking joy in presenting myself as a work of art. There was, however, one variety I neglected to include, not because I ignored it, but for the simple matter I’d never owned it in the first place.
Empathy was a foreign concept. It took me a long time to embrace and decipher the energy of this valuable emotion. I was certainly good at sympathizing, but this action smacked of comparison. I could somewhat understand the pain and heartbreak another felt as long as I found similar instances in my own life. Since my interpretation of sympathy was to look for negative parallels in my own life, the best I could do was increase an undesirable outlook. Instead of understanding the problem (which is the first step to creating a solution) I would unintentionally add to the bonfire of the original crisis by doing nothing more than equating to it. I do not believe sympathy to be unkind, it definitely comes from a desire to extend love, but empathy is a much better and productive expression. First and foremost, empathy, which is the willingness to step into another’s shoes, another’s life, and attempt to feel what they do, is free from judgment. Remember, the total absence of judgment is the very definition of unconditional love. As soon as my opinion (ego) enters the process, I’ve put conditions on it, and I’ve lost my intent. While I believe this is a skill that can be practiced and refined, I feel there is a danger of stepping away from one’s own sense of self if done too much. Awareness is the key. If an aptitude for empathic alignment becomes subconscious, then my understanding is it could have catastrophic consequences.
While I think this choice of living is rare and rewarding, I believe there is an even more elusive emotion; one almost no one has mastered. My theory (and YES, it’s just a theory) is there are people out there who have honed their ability to align with the emotional states of others so much that they automatically start to project their OWN feelings, their own state of consciousness as it were. Their presence alone raises the “vibration” of whoever happens to be in the vicinity. I’m not suggesting the process changes people’s minds or controls their thoughts, but I do believe they carry an elixir of inspiration within their aura, something akin to removing all the surface ripples from a pond. Even if you’re agnostic it’s hard to not admit Christ was certainly one of these blessed souls. Others like Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, or Mother Theresa most likely fall into the same category. I call these individuals “reverse empaths”. If you’ll note, the four I’ve mentioned were as free from ego as one can possibly become, so obviously this is a massive part of the technique.
Have I been in the same room with such people? Maybe. I do know there have been times where my state of agitation was suddenly and inexplicably lowered to a level of peace and bliss. If I’m right, it’s no wonder individuals with such magnetic energies are sought out. The catch is they are also completely uninterested in fame or fortune, which makes finding them difficult… but that’s not going to stop me from trying.
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With Love and compassion, Daniel Andrew Lockwood
In my understanding of this topic, I don’t really make an enemy of ego (not saying that you do). I don’t really see ego getting involved as being something that equates to judgement… or even that the presence of judgement equates to an inability to unconditionally love.
From my current understanding of things, I think of ego as nothing more than “physical selfhood.” Sure we can call someone egotistical or egocentric, and generally mean something “bad” by those labels. But in general, me by my own name is ego. I wouldn’t call that good, bad, right, or wrong. It just means that you’re alive on the planet, haha.
To me, judgement is more just an action of discernment of differences. You discern human from animal. You discern spousal roles from employer roles. You discern hot from cold or wet from dry. Judging, just like ego, certainly carries its own set of negative connotations. If you’re chillin’ with Judgy McJudgerson and all they want to do is nitpick every little thing, I wouldn’t consider that a highly positive emotional experience, haha. But our bodies, evolutionarily speaking, are designed to judge. We had to make snap judgements to discern friend (tribe member) from foe (saber-tooth tiger), different berries, different [unfriendly] tribes or we’d die. Our brains and bodies physiologically react (breathing/heart rate increases, etc) to these differences even if we consciously feel “fine” on the surface.
My point here is that I don’t feel like anyone can strip ego or judgement from themselves – unless they’re comatose or something. It’s just part of being alive and being a human.
To me, unconditional love is more a “conscious choice of unconditionally supportive presence.” You can dislike your child’s choice to date the dude she brought home, but still be present for her through the ups and downs… and to me, ego & judgement withstanding, that still feels like unconditional love.
Sympathy is an outsider looking in. Empathy is the insider living it out. It feels like unconditional love is perhaps an extension of empathy then. Empathy is like generating a first-hand understanding of someone else’s perspective. If you can see, hear, feel, and understand someone’s point of view as if you were living it yourself, you’d naturally consciously choose to remain supportively present with that individual – because you “get it,” even if it differs from your own unique perspective.
As for empathy becoming dangerous – losing your own perspective for being too enmeshed someone else’s, to me, isn’t really empathy anymore as much as it is a trauma response. Codependency. I do agree that people who find it very easy to be empathy can become more indecisive, haha, because they can too easily “see both sides,” and feel unhappy to play into the zero sum game of “choose one and the other loses.”
I also currently believe EVERYONE has a vibrational affect on those around them. It’s my understanding that everyone has a predominant vibrational frequency to them… and people pick up on that. I assume that the likes of Christ and Gandhi have such high vibrations that they probably feel much closer to “love incarnate” than somebody’s Uncle Charlie with the “don’t tread on me” tattoo on his ass, cigarette breath, and penchant for making the female grandkids sit in his lap. But I suppose we would perceive the auras of both types of people. I’d just assume, if we made some arbitrary quantification of it…. it’d be like Uncle Charlie vibrates at a 30, normal folks at a 50, and Christ at a 100. If we (50) interact with Uncle Charlie (30)… we feel worse, but only by 20 degrees. If we (50) interact with Christ (100)… we feel better, but also by a whopping 50 degrees. That would be enough for me to be magnetized to Christ, haha!
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I love this idea of “reverse empaths”. As an empath myself it piques a ton of curiosity. Would this mean they influence emotions in a variety of ways, or does it tend to be just positive shifts in energy?
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I would think empaths are always positive. They have the want or better yet, the ability to project genuine positive feelings because the opposite, apaths, (or apathetic people) drain the room as it were. I’ve met plenty of them, and so have you…