As I sat here brainstorming ideas for my empathy intervention, I asked myself a simple question: Who have I been most frustrated with this week? Upon reflection, I realized that the answer is myself. When this thought first came to me, I wondered if it’s possible to empathize with oneself. After all, isn’t empathy defined by the fact that it’s directed towards another person? As I thought about it more, I realized that I have recently been “otherizing” myself. In my experience, even people who are relatively mentally stable tend to have conflicting voices within themselves, and this is the basis for my self-intervention this week.
This week, I have encountered many failures. Some of these failures were relatively small and inconsequential (like making a mistake on a quiz problem or not studying as much as I wanted to). Others were more impactful; either they had bigger consequences for me or they impacted other people as well. I met each of these situations the same way: identify the incident as a failure, place blame on myself, and move on. Recognizing this pattern in myself has opened my eyes to how unhealthy this is. I have a tendency to forgive other people easily when they make mistakes or do something harmful. I am able to recognize that others are victims of circumstances that I do not understand. However, I often forget to consider the factors that are affecting me or weighing me down, and I find it hard to forgive myself when I do things that I shouldn’t.
This intervention caused me to step back and think about the things that are upsetting me that are outside of my control. For example, one of my good friends has been pushing me away recently, and this has been causing me stress and concern. I look at these incidents as isolated factors. It is neither his fault nor mine that this is negatively affecting me, but I have to consider this as a source of stress in my life. Looking at this and at other stressors do not make my actions/mistakes excusable, but it allows me to understand what drives me to act selfishly, neglect my studies, and do other things that might cause me to become angry with myself.