Apathy, Lack of Empathy, ooooooor Sick of Sympathy
I’ll be the first to say that my advice can be a little…errrrmmmmm…bitter to taste at times. I can say It’s something I’m more aware of and something I’ve actively been “working” on. It’s crazy because, I know that I mean well…but my delivery doesn’t always convey that. It’s mind-boggling sometimes, frustrating occasionally, and flat out comical in other instances (even if I’m the only one that sees the humor in it…lol)
Self-reflection and review has revealed that there’s something that happens in between the time the thoughts manifest in my mind, confer with my heart, and then make their way out of my mouth. What starts out as “coming from a place of love and/or concern” morphs into “WTF?!? and my face, words, and tone put on a whole different wardrobe than the one initially presented.
“Customer” (friends, family, colleagues) reflections and reviews have revealed that by the time it makes it’s way to their ears it may be dressed as impatience, indifference, insolence, or just flat out mean. Usually, none of those are the aim…usually.
Soooo today, after a few separate convos I had, a few thoughts I processed, some eye rolling to some heartfelt social media posts, and some impatience with having to socialize before I was ready; I found myself asking myself…”have I stopped caring?”, “is my affect effecting others”, “am I *gasp* Apathetic?!” LOL…I’m being dramatic but I’m serious.
If you don’t know what Apathy means, or why that would be an issue (especially for me) let me lay it out for you…APATHY MEANS “LACK OF INTEREST, ENTHUSIASM, OR CONCERN.” There are so many reasons that that’s “No Bueno” for me…I’m a therapist for goodness sake! I work in education! I’m a big sister…a BFF…a wife…an aunt… and so many other things that require me to be “tapped in” and these days I find myself soooooo “tapped out”. It’s impacting the way I see things, hear things, respond to things, and/or if I respond at all.
Now…I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t bothered by it, but it would also be misleading to not include that there are times when I’m aware of how I say things and the potential impact.
I know that I’ve always had, and now have even more limited patience for inconsiderate people, self-centered people, narcissistic folks, and others defence of them. As I mature I have become more adamant about my establishment of social and emotional boundaries for my own well-being and will minimize my communication with anyone who can’t or won’t respect that, no matter what the relationship is, was, could be, or should be. I’m also very intentional about seeing people for who they are and who they’ve shown me; not who they can be, who they were, who they want to be, or who others would like them to be. What you show me determines which version of me I show you…period. Take or leave it.
I admit that I will become less engaged, empathetic, and sympathetic over time if you’re asking me REPEATEDLY to help you navigate through a situation for yourself or with someone else, that fits the description of one of the above, one that we’ve already identified a solution to, or one that you have the common sense to navigate through. I’m aware that not all people process things the same way but at some point…”tighten up chief”…see the situation for what it is and move accordingly.
That being said…I never want to unintentionally come across as one who couldn’t care less, doesn’t care at all, and/or has no capacity for empathy and sympathy…and I definitely don’t want to project apathy.
As a therapist, my clients’ success and our relationship develop is dependant on my ability to do so; as an educational department chair, my department’s success and my effectiveness as a leader is dependant upon my ability to do so; as wife, my marriages success and our communication is dependant on my ability to do so, As a big sister, as a BFF, as a confidant, as a daughter, cousin, friend, sister in law, and whatever other titles I inhabit…I need to be able to display empathy, sympathy, but definitely not apathy.
I’m a work in progress, I always will be; a now I’ve identified one more “to-do” to add to my list. I encourage to do your own self inventory and check in and see how you present to others these days…today has definitely been an eye-opener for me. Back to the “lab” I go…and until next time…These are the thoughts I leave with you in this Life of a Whyfe…I think I’m doing it right. LOL!