Empathy Intervention Elle Derby

I’ve done things like the empathy intervention on multiple occasions, not through school, sometimes after watching or reading a thought-provoking piece on all of the constant judgement that surrounds who we are and what we do and consequently we tend to follow the same pattern of judging, not giving people the benefit of the doubt and not putting ourselves into their shoes to possibly see the situation from their eyes. I am an active practitioner of this method of judge now, think later– if I put any thought into it at all, so this week, like other weeks where I’ve tried to put myself into other’s shoes has been very eye-opening. When learning about this intervention, it reminded me of the David Foster Wallace’s “This is Water.” It reminded me that you never know what people are going through, and sometimes even the people that you think the worst of will surprise you with their humanness. I tried to keep this in mind through out the week.
I thought that my intervention would largely revolve around people that I didn’t know doing little things to make me frustrated or annoyed, but I found most of my annoyance coming from things that people that I know and am close with did. I found myself getting very annoyed with the 100th dirty bowl that my roommate left in the sink, even though our dishwasher is empty; I also found myself getting annoyed when I was trying to make plans to see a friend and their responses were coming hours apart. In these small interactions, I found myself getting overly frustrated. I was thinking about how these people’s “oversights” (from my viewpoint) had an impact on my day, but I wasn’t focusing on the reason that these people maybe did that in the first place. It is easier to have empathy when you know the person that is frustrating you, but it didn’t stop me from being annoyed. When I focused on the intervention, I tried to put myself in their shoes: they aren’t going to go about their day doing everything to make me satisfied, and I shouldn’t expect them to. The empathy intervention caused me to get out of my own head and stop being so self involved. Other people are not going to live to please you, and it’s not worth it to get frustrated with the little things. Empathy allowed me to let these small things go, and allowed me to be a little lighter throughout the week.

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