The Hubris of Empathy

Beware the person who claims to be empathetic; empathy can be a very useless thing. Allow me to explain. Empathy allows you to feel another’s emotions, almost like a sixth sense. But feeling exist solely in the individual reality. At that level, it’s the dumbest shit ever; it’s like I feel your pain, so now we have two miserable people. In my experience, many empathetic people are merely crybabies who can’t seem to get out their individual realities. And they consecrate their empathy with such pride, calling themselves empaths. Watch out for these crazy people.

There’s an undeniable arrogance to empathy. It claims to grasp the emotions of other people; in a sense, it claims to feel what they feel, to hurt for them, almost greater and more powerful than a person can feel for himself! But this is hubris. You can sympathize, but one’s pain is like an iceberg. You may feel their feelings, but without having actually lived through the ordeal, without understanding how a person perceived the event, without understanding the trials they lived through previously, you never understand the true scope of their pain. This is hubris. You claim you know a person, but empathy is merely a window into another person’s soul.

So I have listed two kinds of empaths that I dislike: 1. Those who feel other’s emotions, but they’re stuck feeling them in their own heads. 2. Those who exult their empathy as all knowing, all too capable of reading others as if one can know another emotions and feelings better than the individual. And you may ask Why, Alan, are you shitting on people with empathy? Why are you such a hater? Because I was both of these people! And I want to warn everyone who has been cursed with a strong sense of empathy!

Empathy itself is not enough. You must do something about those feelings. You must help them! You must ask and offer, but you must never impose. And you must never fill in the blanks! If you claim to have empathy, then you are an observer. You are a listener, and you will ask questions to further help them process their emotions. But you must also be honest when you have accumulated enough information. That’s the tricky part. You must know the limitations of your judgement, always put it on trial, but you must also trust your judgement when you affirm the facts and your instincts of a person. It’s a weird balance.

Do not be weakened by empathy, rather sharpen it and be brave with it. Too many empathetic people are cowards. You must say your truths, and you must say it in a conducive manner to help others. Otherwise you’re just adding your own shit to their pile of shit.

I began reading a lot about body language. The guiding principle is that there is no absolute body language that illuminates absolute truth. You must first establish a baseline, a dictionary of a person’s movements. When they deviate from that baseline, then you have a hunch of a change in them. This applies to empathy. You must establish a baseline of a person. But this doesn’t necessarily imply you need too much time to do so.

Empathy, instinct, body language: there’s something so primal, animalistic about them. They delve into the unconsciousness, and I’m absolutely fascinated with these things –this Jungian idea that humans have an inherent, universal programming. I guess I’m interested in tapping into that programming. But yeah watch out for empathetic people, a lot of times they’re just oedipal moms, who claim to know everything, who coddles their kids and everyone. Beware these people too. An empathetic person must accept pain and allow other people to hurt, to not fight their battles for them as well, only to help when one can. Loving someone at times means letting them hurt…

 

The Wonders of Being Selfish

It makes little sense, but grant me my selfishness. Grant me my selfishness, and I will grant you yours. Things we denied for ourselves, we can finally grant to one another. Let me return to you, and you’ll see how wonderful it is to be selfish. I want you to be selfish, you who gives tirelessly to all those around you. I know you. I’ve seen you in myself, and I know how you hurt for others. Learn to be selfish for your sake and I will bolster you upon my shoulders like I use to. We will become pillars for one another. You see I learned something; rather I unlearned something. The values our parents and culture preached, they weren’t right. They tried to instill this idea that you have to be selfless –that there is so much more value in giving, and so they create a contract in the form of a relationship; give to them, give them control, give them input, and all the while they guilt you with their obligations. And you give, give, and give until you are nothing. You who had little to give were never in a position to give. You have no substance to the Self. You must be grateful, but gratitude and servitude are two separate entities. Often they are blurred, and perhaps unconsciously blurred. So be as selfish as you can, you who already know how to give to others. You will quickly find that when you indulge your selfish ways, you become all the more capable of giving to others. It is a paradox.

I think this paradox aligns with the idea of living yourself. When I embraced everything my parents told me were bad in this world and wrong about me, I quickly found myself. I spent so much of my life trying to be an ideal that I thought they wanted me to be. Well, I realized I simply cannot. You can only be you. You can only be your affinities. You can only be your weaknesses (that doesn’t mean don’t be aware of them and work on them). And the strangest thing happened when I fully embraced myself. They finally accepted me. I no longer cared for their criticisms because I knew they were wrong. And then I was able to give them something they didn’t even know they needed.

The strangest part is it always stems from love –this desire to shape someone. But you must be careful and watch whether that love transforms into something else. Has it become a matter of power? What about control? Is it dissatisfaction? Beware of projection, intention, and the all too terrible gaslighting. I am fully aware of this fallacy because I have done this evil to you. For instance, sure I intended to help you but how I did it was completely wrong. And we argued based on my intentions. But it should have been about my actions, my words, your actions and your words. Be careful with your mom –I think this is true for how she interacts with you… Because intentions exist in the individual reality, but we must be more aware of the collective reality. It is not up to others to delve into individual realities and grasp the full magnitude of that. That is the hubris of empathy. What was said? What was done? I burned my hand in recognition of this. I had hurt you, and I never will in that way again.

So all this talk about the Self. It is the Jungian idea that the God is where you are not. If you are selfless, embracing your Self will lead you to individuation. If you are selfish, then you will find yourself in others. It’s this whole, constant struggle of balancing between two polarities, and it’s exhausting to be what you do not want to be. But that’s how the shadows grow, and how it consumes you. For me, it consumed me with fire and I destroyed. Only through fire could I understand and transform. A lot of these things are paradoxical; by understanding yourself, you understand others. When you see how ugly you can be, you accept other people’s ugliness. It isn’t abhorrent because it is in you… Humble oneself to elevate oneself.

Saudade

Has the horizon stolen your breath,
when you crashed upon desert lands
to find nothingness? No, you inhaled
and you knew you were right all along.

Oporto called for me as icy waves
thrashed the ship; conquest and greatness
led me away from you, but our love
will bring me back, this I know.

As you hurled through the heavens,
searching for a new home, you must have
felt the caress of my hand. Here, come here.

Deathly rain fell upon us, the screams of men
the deafening crash, a ship torn asunder
And the waters flooding my lungs.
I reached for you across time, across space
to where, to whom you may be.

You saw my grave upon stones,
across the galaxies, on another home.
And as you shed tears for me,
you knew you were right all along.

I laid by you as me and you as you.
and the universe stretched behind and before us
and somehow I felt it, a disquietude settled
and I knew we will find each other again.

Christmas mix

Best Christmas mix I ever heard – me
The only Christmas songs that matter – me
Better than the radio – also me

I love you and I want to be more supportive

I trace your shape from my memories. When I lose you, I’ll search for you through the dark, the abyss, always. And I won’t stop until I find you smiling back at me. Your presence behind me. Don’t turn back or I’ll disappear. Trust in you. Trust in me. I’m a better man, I won’t make his mistakes. Give me your hand and I’ll lead you away from our tears, my love, my dear, my one. Let me stand before you. There won’t be anyone better because I’m going to keep loving you better. I’ll fight my heaven and hell to return to you. Try to remember I always fought for you. I’m Odysseus, only better. I’ve decided to make my life the life worth living and I can’t imagine it without you.

A Happy Mess of the Mind

Dark cold, light of mind
jettison out the warm nest
I made for me myself and I.
Atop the granite, legs swinging
like a kid, Saturdays –quarter horse
outside the riff raff Dim Sum house
singsong Cantonese, loud chatter
and steamy tea. It’s cold as glaciers.
Breakfast nicotine and sugar
I’m smoked salmon. Alaskan deserts,
frozen lakes beneath my feet
the dead and alive, dead lake
alive fish –time dead, and time alive.
I live this flagrant fantasy
can’t stop traveling, moving, jittery
like I’m heated atoms, popcorn pop pop.
But I’m happy –happy from the coffee,
happy from sunlight, a hungry plant
thirsty for food. Skinny, withered
but I’m good good good.