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Caring, Regret, Change
In part one of this true story I said that I
forgot about the other person's feelings. To give a
little more detail to this true story, the other person
is a resident volunteer here at EQI. She had been washing
some clothes by hand. I felt a need to prove to her that
I could wring more water out than she could.
I knew that she was very
sensitive, and I knew that she often felt inadequate and
incompetent. I knew that these feelings came from her
home, where her basic emotional needs had never been met.
I knew that she had felt suicidal in the recent past. I
knew that she had self-harmed for several years. I knew
that she had come close to killing herself one day.
I wonder now, how I could "forget" all of
this... But rather than being too hard on myself, I will
say that I understand that my need to feel superior comes
from many attempts by others, particularly one of my
older brothers, to make me feel inferior. Now, as an
"adult" who has studied abuse and dysfunctional
families, it is obvious to me that my mother felt
inferior as a child so she tried to make up for this by
her attempts to feel superior to my brother. He then did
the same thing to me to compensate for what was done to
him. Now I am "guilty" of doing the same thing.
And I feel bad about it. I want to stop doing it.
So what would help someone "remember" not to do
something which hurts another person? Would it help if
you cared about the person? Would it help if they were
very important to you? I suspect it would.
Caring and remembering are probably somehow
neurologically connected in our brains. I don't know
exactly how, but I am sure they are. If you quickly
forget someone from your life, it shows that they were
never especially important to you, or that you didn't
care very much.
I make a distinction
between importance and caring. For example, if I am lost,
wounded and starving then someone finds me, helps me and
feeds me, I will probably always remember that person
because they were important to my survival. On the other
hand, if I am perfectly healthy and I meet someone, then
get to know them, and I listen to their life story and
feel empathy and compassion for them, I could begin to
care about them without them being important to my
This leads me to think of the word "value".
What does it mean to value someone? What does it mean
when a person says "I feel worthless?", as
suicidal people often do.
In this case, I value the person who I was teasing. I
value her in at least two ways. On a
"practical" level, I value her because she is
of immense help to me. She has been helping me write to
the depressed teenagers, she has been handling much of my
mail, she has been listening to me when I need to vent.
On another level, I value her for who she is and what she
has to offer the world. I told her this morning that her
ability or inability to squeeze water out of socks is not
the most important thing about her. I told her she has
many qualities which are much more important to the
world. Her ability to listen and care for example. Her
ability to empathize and understand. Her ability to know
what is important and what is not. These are almost
unmatched in our materialistic, competitive world today.
I truly believe the world needs more people like her. I
truly believe the world is a better place with her in it.
I feel sincerely sad at the thought she almost took her
Perhaps writing this is my own form of
"penance" we might say for guilty feelings. But
it isn't so much guilt as regret.
I want to write more about feelings like regret when it
comes to behavioral change...so I will do that in Part 3.
Core Components of
Intelligence | Empathy
Emotional Abuse | Understanding
Literacy | Feeling Words
Respect | Parenting | Caring
Listening | Invalidation | Hugs
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