Friday, February 12, 2016

Sympathy for the Devil Within

I was watching an interesting TED talk today online when I noticed something unrelated to the topic the presenter was meaning to discuss, but still illustrated something for me. In the process of relating a story, she talked about having lived through a tragedy that had a huge impact on her life. She got through this story succinctly, and with no fuss whatsoever because it wasn’t the point of her story. What was important was that this experience had shaken her confidence for years to come.

It was not an emotional moment for her, this revealing of such a formative moment.

She then mentioned meeting another person who was experiencing a similar downfall and subsequent hit to her confidence. Revealing this part, about another person, nearly brought her to tears even as she worked to continue her talk.

My first thought was, how noble of her to feel so deeply for this other person. I imagined her to be a kind and honorable woman.

My second observation was that she had felt none of that for herself. And then I realized that I treat myself just the same. It’s easier for me to choke up about the struggles of a movie character than to feel deep sorrow for any struggles I’ve had in my own life.

Of course, if I ever met someone who felt in the opposite way – crying for themselves and feeling nothing for others – I would loath them. Can you imagine such a tool? (Visions of Trump loom in my mind for some reason.)

And finally, my third reaction was, why can’t she feel for herself as strongly as for others? What would be so wrong about that? It sounds balanced and self-empowering. I wanted it for her.

Hours later, I realized that I wanted it for myself, too.