I’m really sensitive to the things that people say and do around me, if it doesn’t fit with my model of how people should be and the way they live their lives.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine expressed her sadness at the end of block. I told her to “toughen up”, not really thinking it was a big deal. She played with my comments, being more sarcastic about her views and joking about them herself. I didn’t think much of them.
A couple of weeks later, we were talking and I said I felt sensitive after our session on psychotherapy. She told me that she could tell me to toughen up but didn’t think that was very useful. I apologised for my lack of empathy and said we all had our different sensitivities. She replied by saying that most/all people would think that telling someone to pull themselves together would trivialize their feelings.
At that point it hit me how she had felt. I felt more awful, knowing that I had been insensitive. I sincerely apologised and explained where my thoughts came from and that I should have been more sensitive.
She accepted my apology and told me to chill out, saying she was completely fine about it.
Anyway, what this episode has helped me to further realise is that I haven’t really been a great friend to her. Looking back, when she explained to me that she was an extreme empath and that she couldn’t distinguish between her own feelings and those around her, I said “that sounds crazy”, making a joke about it.
I’m probably not a great person to talk to about feelings. Sometimes I feel like they are invalid if they are not based on something rational or correct. But the truth is, that’s what feelings are – they can’t always be explained. And the fact that another human being is feeling something in response to their environment, then I should try to feel what they feel. I need to remove my own agenda from my interactions and really listen to a person and try to understand things from their perspective when I currently don’t. I have a very strong moral compass where the voice inside my head is constantly condemning what I see around me and I find it frustrating when I can’t control that environment around me.
I fear that the above is affecting my relationships with people and that makes me feel low about myself. I’ve realised that I value friendship/connections more than I thought I did because work won’t always provide that satisfaction for me, so it’s good to not place all of my eggs in that one basket – the basket of academia and my career goals.
I can be quite ruthless but I don’t want to be anymore. I don’t want to be so harsh on myself and the people around me. However, I don’t want to be vulnerable either. I’m confused.
May Allah grant me greater clarity.