In my 32 years on this Earth (minus the first few), to me, one fact has stood out clearer than the rest. That life is a series of a conversion of issues from one form to the other. 

There’s never a time in our lives when we aren’t dealing with something. Be it the soakings wet shoes your toddler wants to suck on, a differential relationship, a cesspool of career choices or a painting gone wrong. The magnitude doesn’t define the impact. Neither does the time frame. But one thing does. Our reaction to that issue at hand.

Do you coax/distract the toddler or get into a screaming match with them?

Do you let the person blow off some steam before approaching them or charge then with what makes sense to you, almost immediately?

Do you keep striving to build a career or take a break, whether temporary or permanent?

Do you store the painting to work on later or like me, paint it black and start over?

What’s the best way?

Guess what!

There is no best way. 

There is no right way.

There is no only way.

If there is, it’s subjective. Personal. Individualistic. Depending on the situation. One can’t define the pathway for someone else. But one can’t also not try and help people in need. A few rules do apply though.

Like panicking will only worsen the situation. 

Or cry till you feel light. And then focus your energy on doing what seems to be the right thing to do at the moment

Another aspect of decision making is the realization that we must live with them. Often I have seen people regretting a past decision. And in that moment, I have recently found myself asking them:

“Do you think this was the best you could have done according to the then circumstances?”

Often, the answer is “Yes“.

 So even though I advice them to discard the thought immediately, that it does not bode well to dwell in the past, I am aware that this might not be easy for everyone.

Through the years I have learned to distance my heart from my mind. I try to keep my head level. Above emotions. Maybe that’s my survival guide. Because when I don’t, I suffer and so do those around me. Through it all, I am also self aware that not everyone would have the external emotional range of a teaspoon like I do. The thought is alienating and also self deprecating. 

I often think that there might be something wrong with me. There must be because if there is a room full of people crying their hearts out, in all likelihood I would be the one with an eye dry as bone or the one to cry droplets instead of rivulets. And in definition, the most helpless of the lot. For to be in the vicinity of someone who is crying makes me uncomfortable to no end. My first instinct is to get them to stop crying, to calm them down. Then get them to talk so I can focus my energy on finding a solution instead of spending my energy on joining in with emotions which ultimately might not turn out to be as helpful as they should be.

‘Someone must be calm’. I keep telling myself. In all likelihood, it might also be an excuse that I constantly provide to make myself feel better.

Many might be justified in tagging me as apathetic. I am not. I just don’t see the value in feeding to hysteria. Crying as the person is crying . Getting as emotional as them. Or lecturing them with positivity or extreme empathy. The first they might not understand. The second, might not work. On the other hand, it might end up worsening the whole situation, even more so than before. So I give them what they would understand

The validation that it’s alright to break down. Its alright to distance yourself from things/people if it overwhelms you. But it’s also alright to seek help. To talk about what’s bothering you. To seek out a way to the best of your abilities and situation.

And that even if I won’t cry with you, I will always be there, to the best of my own abilities, to help you figure out a solution.

To me, maybe that is what empathy means. To recognize how best to be a helper.

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