Menopausal mom to 2 young adult sons (one with ASD, ADHD, tic/seizure disorders and the other with attitude).

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Empathy and a New 30 Day Challenge

I hardly ever get sick.  Sure I get the occasional cold but rarely am I bed-ridden with fever, chills and body aches.  I’m convinced I got hit with this latest flu because I failed so miserably at my 30 Day Challenge to go sans alcohol.  :(    

As a parent of a special needs child, I’d like to think I have become a more “empathetic” and understanding person.  Do we not hope that people will be understanding and empathetic towards our children (and us) when "we" are having a meltdown in the grocery store, shopping mall, restaurant or wherever???  Does the saying “Walk a mile in my shoes” not often come to mind in these situations?

Over the past couple of days while in a state of flu-induced delirium, it struck me that perhaps I’m not as empathetic towards others as perhaps I should be, specifically when it comes to being sick.  I’m not talking life-threatening illness here just your everyday cold/flu sickness.  I have been through a “life-altering” illness, what I refer to as my “full meal deal” - mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer  five years ago so I do not take illness lightly.

I can think of some simple everyday examples where unless you have “walked that mile”, unknowingly and certainly not maliciously, we may not be as understanding and empathetic as we could be.  For example:

J2, Uncle Stoo & I all have “seasonal” allergies.  For me the “season” has now started in about March and goes straight through to November.  Oh joy!  Stuffy nose, itchy eyes, sinus headache…the entire gamut.  Now……G and my sister DO NOT suffer from any type of seasonal allergies what-so-ever and therefore consider our sniffling and snorting to be somewhat annoying.  Well EXCUSE US all to heck! 

Then there’s the non-drowsy vs. regular over-the-counter medicines.  Back in my 20’s, I thought non-drowsy medications were for wimps.  How’s THAT for being empathetic?  Oish.  NOW if I take anything other than non-drowsy……put me to bed, turn off the lights and see you in the morning. 

Having children is another biggie.  Remember being single and going to friends’ houses who had kids and there’d be toys ALL OVER THE PLACE!  I’d think to myself, gee surely they could have at least gathered all those toys into a pile in the corner.  Come on now…I’m not the only one who thought that, am I right??  It wasn’t until I had kids on the go that I realized trying to clean up on a regular basis was a useless and never-ending battle.  Eventually I too learnt the art of kicking toys out of my path on the way to the kitchen with laundry basket in one arm and some frozen substance that would be dinner in the other.  I mean seriously, why clean up more than once a day (if that) and “TRUE” friends wouldn’t judge.  ;P

Now these examples in the big scheme of things are pretty insignificant and rather petty.  Yet I wonder…do these emotions (empathy and understanding) develop/mature with age and experience for all things in our lives or do we only focus these emotions on issues that are at the center of our lives at any given time?  Wow…that sounded almost “deep”. 

So I’ve decided I am going to conduct my own research with another 30 Day Challenge.  I will try to be more aware of my surroundings and for every time I feel irritated or annoyed (G will argue that would be 100% of the time), I will turn the tables and look at the situation from the other perspective.  Wish me luck!

Any one else want to take on a 30 Day Challenge?  

Think about it…D

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