Empathy Is Not Always a Good Thing

Although I have a mood disorder called depression, I am very caring and compassionate. I love to help others. And I usually do a good job of it. My depression, and my quest to break has provided the experience and knowledge that enables me to understand what a person who is depressed is going through better than someone who has never suffered from depression.  This is not to say that I know exactly what they are going through because everyone of us is unique with our own array thoughts and beliefs that they we have built up through out prior experience.  We each experience this world and this life differently, but there are obviously many things that we generally agree upon.  Hence the utility of this blog.

But like some people, whether they are depressed or not, I am somewhat empathic, meaning that I can quickly and often intuitively pick up on other people’s moods.  This can be very useful in helping me to decide who to interact with another person.  But it can also be a nuisance, especially if the other person is in a negative mood and i am close with them.

For example, If one of my daughters gets into a bad mood because she is bored or felling blue, I pick up on that and then start to feel those same feelings.  But because she doesn’t have a mood disorder her negative mood can disipate in an instant, while I am left with the task of consciously having to pull myself out of the hole of sadness or depressive feelings that i have fallen into.

So if you find that someone who you are close with like a child, sibling, parent, friend, or coworker then you may need to learn to be keenly aware of your thoughts and perceptions as you interact with this other person.  You need to keep a little psychological distance if you really want to help, or if you really just need to take care of yourself which should always be a priority.  Because if you drop down into their mood state then how can you be of any service to them?

Sometimes I can be so effected by a single sentence spoken or a single look on my daughter’s face that I immediately have to take myself out of her presence so that i don’t get depressed.  It’s kind of like the instruction given by flight attendants on air planes regarding the us of oxygen masks.  They tell you to first place the mask on your self before using it to assist others, even your won child.  And that is sound advice.  Because if were to help the child first then you might not have enough air to stay conscious yourself and that would probably end up do neither of you any good at all.

So know your limitations.  Be conscious of who is in a toxic mood so you can keep some distance between them and yourself.  You’ve got to look out for Number One!  And do not cover for a moment that you are Number One!  The you can be in a place to help others.