Today is the 13th day in a row that I have run a fever. It seems like I can't even remember when I wasn't sick. A week ago I went to the doctor. He did a flu test and decided that I didn't have the flu, but that I had one of several other viruses that are making their way around town. He told me there wasn't much he could do for me and I would just have to wait it out. He said that it normally ran it course in about two weeks. I certainly hope so, because I am very tired of feeling sick.
One thing that this experience has given me is empathy. In my work with the Relay For Life and the American Cancer Society I meet lots of people who are going through cancer treatment. Although I am not equating in any way my experience the past couple of weeks with going through cancer treatment, I do think that it has given me more empathy. As a self-employed person I have not had the luxury of being able to take off of work. I have just had to push through. I know of so many people who go through cancer treatment and just have to push through with life.
According to Psychology Today's website, empathy is the experience of understanding another person's condition from their perspective. You place yourself in their shoes and feel what they are feeling. The power of true empathy is its ability to give us a fresh understanding of the other person's emotions and thoughts to illuminate an aspect of their experience that would not have been apparent to us had we not stepped into their shoes.
Empathy gives us the ability to recognize another's emotional state, feel in tune with that emotional state, and if it is a negative/distressful emotion, feel and show appropriate concern. I know that whenever I meet someone going through difficult times, I never know what to say to them. I do know that It is never appropriate to say."I know what you are going through". One person can never know what someone else is going through.
Elizabeth Thomas states that, "Empathy is the only human superpower-it can shrink distance, cut through social and power hierarchies and transcend differences". Just think we can all be super heroes if we would just use our super power of empathy for others.