Everybody’s got two wolves inside them. Both of them are starving. One wolf is anger, envy, pride. The other one’s truth, love and kindness. Everyday they tear each other apart. But it’s not the better wolf that wins. It’s the one you feed. – Tsalagi Tale
Sometime I wonder if anyone wonders what it’s like to be me; to live my life. The way I wonder what it’s like living someone else’s life. Do they think it’s easy? Or that the perceived value of my life is more or less than theirs? Do they wish they could be me? Or do they feel sorry for me and wish they never lead a life remotely similar to mine? Or do they even think about these things at all?
I want the ability to step into someone else’s shoes and know what they are going through. Sometimes I see the people who are evidently living a great life and for a fleeting moment I wish I lived theirs. But then, I stop and think of what problems they could be having that I don’t have and can’t handle. What struggles do they have in their seemingly perfect life? Will I ever be able to deal with the same issues that they face? Maybe their relationships with their loved ones are the hardship they face. Maybe they have trouble conceiving. Maybe they have financial issues and live with uncertainty every day of their lives. Or they don’t have enough food for the whole family. Or they are crippled by debt.
We all live under different pressures. Each person’s pressures, issues, difficulties, hardships are tailored towards their own self and with one goal: improve, rise above, hope, persevere, grow, learn, survive. Every single person has a unique set of issues like no others. I guess the Buddhist’s, video game creators and sci-fi authors are correct in a way: maybe a person ascend from one level to the next, the only difference being in the level of difficulty a person faces. But all this is an exercise in an isolated, individual world. Our secluded selves are not the way this world allows us to operate. To our individual problems, throw in an added complexity; that of the human’s ability to have interpersonal relationships and socialize. You now have the ability to exponentially increase your hardships in intensity or reduce them.
Because people forget that we all have our problems and are at the level of the game we are supposed to be at. Instead of dreaming/imagining each others life with empathy, it becomes a game of comparison. Although, there are people might dream of your life and be envious of it, they at the end of the day will step out, wish you well, be grateful for what they have, and move on. Others, however, might think you have an easier life than them and instead of wishing you well and moving on, they would take it upon themselves to teach you some hard lessons they think life hasn’t taught you. These people don’t directly cause you pain or stress, because that would make them terrible people, but they wait in the sidelines and encourage situations, hoping hardships befall you so they can “save” you and teach you the lesson. Their “good Samaritan” label on their self-identity remains intact and yet..
I wonder if my dim view of people is naive or if in my 32 years of life, I have managed to glean at least something insightful from my life. A lot of us don’t even know what is going on inside our own heads, let alone another’s. How do you gauge another’s intentions if we, the only creatures with the ability to communicate abstract ideas, can’t elucidate our murky feelings or be transparent about them? Perhaps, what we lack is courage. I know I do. Sometimes I think I am that person that wants to teach people the lessons I’ve learnt the hard way by “saving” them. It makes me hate myself and I have to make a conscious effort to draw myself back from being that person.
So, I guess the question is, which type of person are you? How do you make yourself be the Empath rather than the Samaritan? How thin is the line between them? What role is the Empath supposed to play in the world of interpersonal skills?