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Empathy is a human capability


January 2012    

Second day after the gym and I made such a dramatic headline, I know. Well, this morning, I received a BlackBerry message from my mom which is not broadcasted to anyone else but to me, Handbook Health of 2012, which is the previous post. There’s one thing that I highlighted for every aspect of health in that context. For the first one, I looked closely to Live life with the 3 Es: Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.


Then I recall the time when I went to a retreat on character development, which was pretty recently. The day before yesterday, I received an e-mail about my comprehensive profile from my Pastor. It’s officially assessed by Foto Karakter, part of the PowerCharacter personal consulting group. Basically what they do is have you fill out some questions in your own handwriting. And after a one-on-one chat with one of the consultants, I can say that 99% of what they’ve said to me is right. I’m not intentionally selling their service here, it’s just what I personally experienced. It’s pretty cool, you should check them out.


So, since now that I’m working out again, I have the energy I will never have if I never push my heart rate up to 180 bpm, which was how much I went up to during my workout today. Anyway, inner energy-wise, I’m good to go. Enthusiasm in life, I already have that Spirit – I realized that the only way to sustain that excited feeling is to plan those rewards. Of course I want to have my own collection of essays published one day, or my articles published on some publications I admire (I won’t mention them here, that would ruin the surprise! It’s not going to be, like, oh here’s a new pitch from a girl named Stacia Priscilla, hey, it’s that girl who loves pigs!!!). Of course I want to have a collection of cool interactive illustrations that I carry around in my portfolio, with each of its respective characters available in the form of bookmarks, stickers, gift wrappers, greeting cards, and more! Just thinking about these accomplishments I can see in the future makes me kind of orgasmic. Gasp. But in-between working for all that, just like anybody else, I’m pretty sure you feel the occasional social pressure putting you down, more stress, plenty of frustrations, and then suddenly, you imagine obstacles that were never there. And then you’re now here, on the verge of giving up.


I think that’s what I have not mastered – dealing with all kinds of people, responding to every one of your possible customers, clients, frenemies, whatever. The secret to all that, as it said in my Foto Karakter profile (but this goes to all humankind, if in fact you are a human reading this blog), is EMPATHY.


So, as has became my best friend, it tells me that empathy is defined as:


em·pa·thy [em-puh-thee]


1. the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.
2. the imaginative ascribing to an object, as a natural object or work of art, feelings or attitudes present in oneself:
By means of empathy, a great painting becomes a mirror of the self.


In essence, I think we are given so much creativity and the ability for imagination precisely for this purpose – to empathize. Most of the time, when we’re dealing with people, we have to put ourselves before the person’s needs, and I think that this is especially important for doing business. I know that’s a no-brainer, but it works for husbands and wives too.


I used to be a sucker for Spider-Man. I would put up Spider-Man wallpaper on my Friendster profile, and I have his display picture all around my virtual profiles. Anyway, the thing is, I remember this one quote Aunt May said to Peter Parker about marrying MJ:


A man needs to put his wife before himself. Can you do that, Peter?
You must be ready to put her before yourself. Are you ready to do that Peter?


Obviously he’s not ready, because the third movie really disappointed me, big time. It’s too much. That’s a whole different topic.


Thankfully, I’m not a man. But I know how great of a weight on a man’s shoulders it is to put his ego behind. I already accepted myself as a single woman for the rest of my life before I met my boyfriend, working so darn hard to figure out what will my future career be, only to shatter myself and hurt health. But going through that, I was finally able to understand why it’s so difficult for a man to change. Men will never change. They’re stubborn about their priorities, and they appreciate hard-earned success more than the average women (at least, within the Indonesian culture). That’s why some things sometimes seem more important to them: Games, comic books, cars, and stuff. It’s just their ways to take their mind off work and let the ego run free. That’s why guys-night-out exists in the first place. It’s beer and football, it’s boring, but I think every girl should respect that time whenever her guy’s away from her. I can fully empathize how a man feels, even though now that I’m in a relationship, sometimes I forget that. A lot of times I forget that, now that I’ve accepted myself fully as the opposite sex.


The pain of not having your period for almost a whole year, stressing yourself up to find a job and accepting your fate that you’re going to be alone and that you are never good enough for your ideal boyfriend (which is such a concrete imagination that I have not yet lived up to his standards up to this day!), makes it a lot more painful when you start to hurt the people around you. The fact that I’m God-given an invisible pen to be a writer and destined to be in an art school gives me both the intellect and the creativity to empathize the emotions of others – accept others the way they already are, understanding their personality and what makes them feel that way as opposed to another who has a different personality would have felt, and little things like that – eventually, I give up trying to change people. Everything I try to change is myself, but after that tumultuous year of physical and emotional pain, my ego stays the same. Even up till now. One of the things that I considered when I decided to celibate having a boyfriend is that I know I will prioritize my own ego and ignore the boy’s situation that does not fulfill my ego’s needs. Not being coquettish here, but I know that it’s a social conditioning for a man and a woman to have a relationship and the woman is supposed to rely on the man for almost anything.


On the other hand, the power to empathize bridges that gap between the classic condition of the two sexes and the independent streak of a woman, as it says in my character report: “Empati Anda adalah kekuatan membangun hubungan.” Directly translated, it means “Your empathy is a power to build relationships.”


Which is why, I think, no matter how stubborn my ego has grown, I should slowly let go of it. Not entirely, but shake it when it needs to. I’m not a man, I’m the weaker sex. The only thing that’s stronger about a woman is her invisible powers – compassion, empathy, and ultimately, altruism. I’m not Mother Teresa, but I think that applies to all women – size XL or XS, age 19 or 91, white skin or black skin.


I know that it’s a pretty big subject here, today, with no warning whatsoever, but I think out of every quiet moment we take everyday to think, we discover the exact truths we need for ourselves rather than the sub-journalism articles we find for free around the Web these days that are telling us what to do and making us stupid. Ha! Don’t take it personally! Because I sometimes do that too, just for writing practice :P


ANYWAY,… my workout today consists of a few leg workouts, 15 minutes on the treadmill, and 25 on the ellipticals. I did a 2.5 incline for the treadmill during my warmup at the first 4 minutes, speed 5.5. Then for the rest of the workout I remained at a 1 incline while changing my speeds from 5 to 7.5 and to 6 and 6.5 then back to 5.5 and repeat the whole thing over and over again in bouts of one minute. For the last 3 minutes I did a 2.5 incline again to cool down. Then for the elliptical workout it’s basically the same as yesterday, just higher level of intensity. I warmed up with a level 3, then interchanging levels of resistance between 5 to 10, 11, 12, and 13. And then at home I did a couple more 15-minute stationary bike, the retro one in my mom’s room.


I feel a lot better. Now, after reflecting on my own profile and discovering the power of empathy, I think I can go on with my life. I’m being sarcastic.


I know it’s a long post. But hey, I got your attention up till here.



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