Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Project Empathy

I have "Continuing Care" class on Mondays from 6pm to 9pm. They consist of going into group at 6:15, taking a break at 7, going back to group at 7:15 (ish), taking a break at 8, going back at 8:15 (ish) and leaving at 8:50 (ish). Out of 9 classes, we have watched 3 movies and 1 documentary. To most everybody else, class is a breeze and just a weekly pain in the ass. To me, it's disappointing, boring as hell and a waste of my fucking time. It's county run, man, what are you going to do?

I'll tell you what I'm going to do...what I did...er, am doing. Past tense. Present participle. Gah. Anyway...

I'm giving myself weekly projects. I can't rely on Travis County for help (surprise). Two weeks ago, I made a list of all the things I still do that I did as an active drunk/junkie. These included smoking, eating like a college freshman, too much caffeine consumption...even  things like putting off laundry. I wanted to be mindful of all the little things that can add up to slipping into other old habits. I revisit the list every Monday to see what progress I've made on each of these. I'm making headway on some more than others (I'm looking at you, nicotine).

Last week was project 30 in 30. This is blog #8. Huzzah.

This week is Project Empathy. Empathy, as we know from our Google searching, is putting yourself in someone else's shoes so that you can understand what that person is feeling. It is on a deeper and more meaningful level than sympathy or pity. And I do dick about relating to someone that pisses me off during the course of my day. My empathy for strangers can be shit.

Hence this week's homework. Every day this week, I will pick one person a day who annoys, irritates or angers me. I will then try to imagine their childhood, their high school peer group...their successes, their failures...love lost, love found...what they're doing today and plan to do tomorrow...and what are they feeling at that moment they are behaving in that manner (that behavior I am not happy with).

After I've apparently written an extensive biography of this individual in my head, can I empathize?

There is a kid in the Monday group who bothers me constantly. He is a mouthy little dork who is white as hell and doesn't want to be. He constantly talks about his girlfriend and his fast food job. I am annoyed by his presence all the time. So...I had to pick him.

I did the best I could. I don't know if I fully empathize with him, but at the end of this exercise, he didn't bother me anymore. He's not even 21 yet. Let him be...whatever that is.

Irritation subsided into passing amusement.

Well, hell...I'll take it.