Tag Archives: empathy

Countertransference vs Empathy vs Compassion

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Countertransference vs Empathy vs Compassion

I had the most interesting insight today. To be honest, I will probably be reconciling and revisiting it over the next little bit. As I sat listening to a client today, I made note of a realization I had to contemplate later. Lucky you, I am doing that now.

I’ve noticed over the years that I am able to connect with people because somehow I am able to find something in them, experientially or otherwise that I can empathize with. I used to joke that I was a good social worker because I could identify with every Lana Del Rey song. More sad than funny now, I suppose, but still true enough ha.

During grad school, I often allowed myself to feel badly about this, as it was labeled countertransference. And if I am honest with myself, sometimes it may have been negative countertransference, for sure. But we learn to check our biases, as much as we can, as continually attempting to be informed humans. And the dance between empathy and countertransference is certainly a tricky one to navigate.

But what got me today, was realizing how easily I could understand the reasons, internal and external, subconscious and conscious, that this client was making the decisions that they were making. And I realized that I understood them because I had made the exact same decisions once before, for the nearly identical reasons.

All the parts of my personality and situation were right in front of me…

All the parts I have hated, questioned, forgotten, burned, and buried…

All of them.

And I felt no hatred, no questioning, no judgment for the client. It all made perfect sense.

But it was a grace I have struggled to provide within. As if I didn’t deserve compassion at all, let alone from myself. I have always felt a certain level of shame about some decisions I made in my earlier adulthood; even shame regarding smaller decisions I have made, more recently than that.

I have rarely felt any animosity or disdain toward a client, as I feel like I can understand so much of the reasons people do the things they do. Regardless of whether it is experiential understanding or trauma informed book learning, I can still understand most situations that humans end up in. (Mind you, I said MOST not all).

Yet the amount of doubt, anger, loathing, disgust, and pity I have felt for the younger versions of myself?

Vast. Expansive. Shifting. Sinking. Consuming.

I have BEEN Artax.

And yet, looking at myself, tonight, as I would a client?

Never before seen footage of a grown ass woman heffalumping sobs of forgiveness and understanding. That was a long drive home. Good gracious.

Oof.

Who even the eff am I?

 

 

 

 

Oops, I did it again.

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Oops, I did it again.

Sometimes I lose sight of the fact that every time I am disappointed it is because of an expectation that I have created in this wee little brain of mine. I heard a song last night by an artist that is sorta? localish…. One of the lyrics referred to the fact that as far as water is concerned, he only has half a brain, because the other half IS water… Anywhoo…. His name is Hunter Paye, he is playing at the Alberta Street Pub if you are interested….

I digressed. Where was I?

Ah, yes. Expectations lead to disappointment.

So anyway, I am trying very hard to stay present and enjoy my new experiences and understand that when it comes to everyone else in the world, concentric circles are we.

We all have different agendas yet similar needs at the center; when we expect others to react and/or act the same way as we would and they don’t, we project our disappointment onto them. However, the fault lies in ourselves for aligning our own thoughts and pushing our perceptions onto them.

I recently read a pretty damn good article which I think is (at least partially) at the heart of this soul burn of mine: I postulate if we are are hardwired to empathize with those we love at a neural level, then aren’t we hardwired to assume that they are as well?

Hm.

So I guess what I am working through is that what I am feeling at this moment is in fact self inflicted. And that sucks. Because I probably made the other party feel shitty by letting them know how I felt. But honesty about feelings is better upstream than down. Right?

Right.

Now I shall bathe whilst drinking my beer(s) and contemplate this more deeply in order to let it go.

Cheers.

XOXO

So you wish you were an Empath?

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So you wish you were an Empath?

Beers in the bathtub

My whole life I have been susceptible

To feeling the world move;

Just by being near you,

I FELT.

The enormity of it.

The brevity.

The gravity.

I learned to dissociate;

Separate myself from it.

I put up Pink’s wall

Protected myself.

Learned to shut it out

For fear of being destroyed.

(Or revealed)

I remember back in another life:

Times when thoughts were fleeting

And I understood what Barrie meant

When he said fairies were only big enough

to feel one emotion at a time.

My momentary instances;

Glimpses really…

Perceptions of feelings,

Experiences…

When coherent thoughts

Were meaningless and

When the world;

Reality,

Was too big to contain

In my chest

And I knew

Oh I knew

My heart would explode

From the overwhelming love!

But by grace it would dissipate.

Lucky for me.

And it is echoed now

In the pendulum’s swing-

Such a visceral sadness

In thinking of her.

I feel through you

Such a compounding misery.

My alleged “gift”

Neil was right you know-

“They don’t teach you what to say…”

I grow weaker and weaker trying

To subsume within,

My compartmentalized arks,

Shielded from my sentience.

Fiona said she ‘just wants to feel everything’

Well, she can have it.

Please just take it,

Before I am consumed.