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From Ego to Empathy

Recently, I received a call from a close friend who sounded deeply distressed. As she poured her heart out, I noticed myself becoming irritated. It was not because I was listening to her complaints. But mainly because she was not listening to me. She had been going through some family issues for long. She had been grappling with ongoing family issues and I offered solutions based on my own experiences but she was reluctant to use them. Whether it was her complacency, others' lack of response, or her own reservations. I couldn't help but wonder why I was getting upset when she wasn't embracing my ideas.


As humans, we possess an innate tendency to assist and empathize with others. We have the inherent ability of compassion. There is nothing wrong with helping and understanding others. The problem lies in the mindset with which we show our compassion. Generally, we help with expectations. Often, we extend assistance with expectations - expectations that the person we're helping will appreciate our efforts, expectations that feed our ego. We take pride in proclaiming, "I solved their problem!" or "They are doing well because of me!" We consider ourselves as the rescuers. Of course, we are the rescuers in some way. It is the rule of nature, we help others and others help us. But the moment our expectations are shattered, bitterness creeps in. We regret our acts of compassion, "They don't value my work!" or "This is ghor kalyug, people don't listen to those who help!"


It is weird how we tend to prioritize ourselves when someone seeks our help. Maybe they have already tried the solutions we gave and it didn't work. Maybe they are not ready to try our solutions. Maybe they just don't want any solutions, they just want to be heard. Instead of genuinely understanding their needs and focusing on their pain, we become preoccupied with our own hurt. This scenario often plays out in families when the older generation attempts to solve an issue, but the younger generation doesn't agree. There is rising frustration and stress due to ego-clashes, "Younger ones don't listen to us.", "Elder people never understand us." are frequent complaints. In the process, the actual problem is often disregarded.


Next time you wish to help someone, keep in my that it's about them, not you. You're guiding them because they are in a vulnerable state. You are the mentally stronger one, you must act like one! Let go of the expectation that they must adopt your suggestions, and instead, focus on truly understanding their needs.


Let's walk on the path from ego to empathy!

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