You can’t control everything but you can control how you respond to it as the Stoics would say.
There is reacting and then there is responding.
Not responding or reacting is still a response.
There are some circumstances which calls for indifference. This is what Mark Manson refers to when he says “not giving a f**k”.
One of the Four Agreements is to not take things personally.
I think there is an unspoken dimension to empathy where we might not necessarily and completely understand the actions or behaviour of another individual. We have to accept that we cannot understand, perhaps due to so, so many factors, because let’s face it, we really don’t know what it’s like to be in the other person’s shoes. We can only imagine. But imagination can be endless and we don’t have that kind of time.
You have to ask yourself such questions — Are they projecting? Are they just outright cruel? Are they aware of their own behaviour?
And in the instance where people are just outright cruel, and to me, that’s people who really can’t be ‘re-conditioned’ or rehabiliated, say a psychopath but even then it would be cruel for me to say they are cruel. There’s grey area on whether psychopaths were born or bred. If its due to a brain-development defecit that makes it so that they feel absolutely no empathy whatsoever, it would be unfair to label them cruel. It is their actions that are cruel but even then, it’s coming from a lack of awareness to some degree.
In the Art of Happiness, the author had spoken about a woman with self-destructive behaviours, knowing the negative impact it had on her. He asked the Dalai Lama what advice he could offer to someone like her and he simply said, “I don’t know.”
Because there are so many factors that contribute to any given situation or event. The human mind is so complex, it would be so difficult to understand what is contributing to what is taking place. You would have to go into the details of the individual’s life to truly understand. Which, again, we just don’t have alot of time for.
You see, we tend to confuse sympathy and empathy. Empathy is really understanding the other person’s feelings i.e sadness, anger, disappointment and so forth. You are trying to put yourself in that position whilst considering any possible factors that could have lead to such behaviour or situation.
Feeling sorrow regarding someone’s misfortune is sympathy. It doesn’t necessarily mean you understand.
Empathy really goes beyond the surface level. It is much deeper.
Indifference and empathy may seem like they are on the opposite side of the spectrum, they may not seem like they go hand in hand but they do in my opinion.
Apathy, on the other hand, is a kind of numbness to emotions — it’s a condition but indifference, which is a choice, would require empathy to some degree if you really want to turn the other cheek.
After all, you can react or you can respond.
Reaction happens unconsciously. Responding is considering your own well being without violating the other individual’s well being.
I mean you can simply react because it’s less disciplinary effort, so why respond? Because empathy.🤙🏾