Empathy

29.04.2019

I signed up for one of those countless dating apps. It happened pretty fast until the first match occurred. I’ve already been texted. Irony of the story: Personally, I think dating is super exhausting. That’s not only because my mental condition makes many emotional interactions unnecessarily complicated, but also because I’m polyamorous. In fact, it’s even an extreme type, since I generally refuse to have any kind of clearly structured relationship. I don’t want to tell anyone how to live their lives – but the same holds true vice versa. When other people decide to spend some of their time with me, I’m naturally delighted. But I have no entitlement to it, just as they have no authority over my time. But explain that to someone on the first date. Oh, by the way, I’m a borderliner who also regularly fights depression and actually don’t feel like having relationships in the classic way. Yeah. I’m sure it’ll work out great. The only problem is that if I don’t talk about it, sooner or later there will be a point at which the whole thing has to be addressed – something like that can never be avoided. But if I don’t say anything until then and that’s why it fails, then I’ve wasted the time of all involved unnecessarily, because something like that could have been clarified much earlier. It is a tragedy. But I guess I’ll text her back anyway. You miss every shot you don’t take and all that. Yesterday I shared some of these thoughts on my Facebook wall and received unexpected encouragement from one of my former teachers and someone who was in my class. It’s kind of crazy that I haven’t exchanged a real word with them for years and yet they support me. That is somehow…nice. It’s nice to see that this internet can also be used for positive things. Just don’t be an asshole, don’t act like the ultimate jerk and tell other people how crappy you think they are and that they may please die of a deadly disease. People are so incredibly ambivalent beings. Loving and cruel at the same time. Classical in-group-out-group behavior. It would certainly be many times more peaceful on the Internet, but also in the rest of the world, if we would succeed in extending our empathy to a larger group of people. Our evolutionary legacy, however, does not necessarily make this task the easiest. The simple tribal relationships of the past do not necessarily provide the ideal basis for the development of global empathy. But one will still be allowed to dream. My sister sent me an e-mail earlier with comments on one of the drafts of one of the book chapters. It’s so crazy that I’m quite uncomfortable with the thought of reading her corrections, although I know it’s both necessary and only done with the best of intentions. When it comes to criticizing my own work, I instinctively react very thin-skinned, although I am fully aware that this criticism is immensely important. Heavens, I have even dedicated an entire chapter to this subject alone and that we should be grateful if someone takes the trouble to give us well-founded criticism. So am I. Fighting the first unpleasant feeling is therefore always a task that I have to accomplish. I know that my head tells me lies, that there is no reason to feel bad about it, that it’ s not right to tell me that my work is completely useless and that I will fail terribly. I know that is a lie. I am getting better and better at not believing this lie. A few years ago I probably would have been completely overwhelmed by my internal emotional chaos, but now it’s more of an unpleasant sting, although it’s fairly controllable now. It is there, yes, I feel it with every breath, but it does not control me. The ability to control that I have learned over the years is what distinguishes my present self from my past. I have come a very long way, but it was necessary to reach this point. I am a more complete person than I was then. Not perfect, of course not, but much stronger and more conscious of my own character.

You are a decent human being. Behave accordingly.

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