Here’s my problem. How do you ever know what someone else is feeling? Like when you ask someone and they say, “Fine,” how do you just know what fine feels like. For me, fine is a grit-your-teeth-and-struggle-through-the-day feeling. Other people may think of fine as an everything-is-right-in-the-world-and-I’m-so-happy-I-could-die feeling.
It just doesn’t make any sense to me. I guess it partly depends on the context. I mean, it’s like being in a high school English class, using context clues to guess the meaning of a word. I was never very good at that, and I don’t think I’m very good at decoding other people’s feelings.
That’s what is so strange to me. In the past 3 weeks, three separate people have all guessed my feelings and helped me out. There was my boss, neighbor, and friend. What do these people have in common, like do they attend secret decoding M sessions? Realistically, it’s probably not about me at all.
Thinking about it more, it’s definitely not about me. It’s about them. They are wicked amazing people. But no, it’s not even really about them.
It’s about their empathy—they have a ton of it. Like, they understand feelings and can relate to other people without actually experiencing it. For instance, my boss could feel my discomfort at the meeting. Maybe he experienced it himself, but he could on some level relate to me. Liz, my neighbor could as well, when she heard me yelling, she stepped in. She put herself in my shoes and read my fear, somehow. And Bee, well she knows what it’s like to drink too much and need a ride home.
I think I’m on to something, though. All the people in my life who are good bystanders, are in some way able to read the context and then put themselves in my position. What an incredible set of skills. To the people reading my blog, here is my pledge to you. For the rest of this month, and the next, I’m going to practice feeling for other people, because I think that’s the key to being the best bystander possible.
Until next time,