Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Empathy, Shame & Therapy

Luke Ford writes:

Throughout my life, I’ve had my narcissism interrupted by tides of empathy. I would suddenly see things as they really were for those around me and I would see how I was doing things that were unnecessarily hurting others and myself, I would see how in some ways I had been heading down a wrong path for days or weeks or months or years. I would get these lightning flashes of clarity. They were a combination of feelings and thoughts and they left me quite ashamed.

When I would feel things as others felt them when they experienced my behavior and my words, I’d feel horrible. I’d feel ashamed. I’d determine to change my ways and sometimes I did change and did the hard work to make myself a better person. But I hated those bouts of shame. I hated them so much that I held myself away from empathizing too much and just told myself to keep my eye on the prize of accomplishment and to hunker down and to keep pushing myself forward.

Empathy and shame. They’ve run together for me much of my life.