At first when you look at this photo you may not recognize the Dragonfly has landed on a mirror and that is the reason for the appearance of two bodies. This is also true sometimes when we look upon our fellow man. We may not recognize they are always a reflection of us.
Sometimes, most particularly when we see someone who has lost their way or made choices we find frightening (judging something to be unacceptable is always sponsored by our own fears) can make it difficult for us to relate to another. We do not want to relate because in fact we do not want to see that part of ourselves which also could arrive at this juncture in life.
To distance ourselves is always a mistake because we dehumanize the other and history has taught us this lesson many times and with sometimes incredible and disturbing results. For example, the holocaust in Germany. It was all about wanting and believing others were different and therefore it became easy to assign blame and allow atrocities. War does the same. Even politics often does the same. The concept is laughable. We are the same. In fact we now know that our DNA (and the map of the human genome) connects us to most living organisms on this planet and perhaps others as well.
So physically we can understand our similarity but surely emotionally we vary greatly. I would have to answer yes and no to this question. Yes we can have vastly different social attitudes formed by our emotional makeup. But our emotional makeup is similarly formed. So if I had been raised by parents who were fundamentalists and extremists then chances are I would follow in their footsteps. As the saying goes the “apple does not fall far from the tree”. Does it mean I do not have free choice? No. Always I have free choice. Does it mean I am significantly influenced by my surrounds? Yes.
So it is important to remember these two aspects when we are dealing with others. First we are all woven from the same cloth and second our pattern was determined to a great extent by the weavers (our parents, educational institutions, social environment and personal experiences around us). Once we understand this it is much easier to reach within and have empathy for another.
Empathy is really just another word for understanding and supporting. Empathy allows us to accept that another is struggling and in pain. Empathy allows us to comfort without becoming overwhelmed by the emotion. Sometimes it is difficult to remain empathetic and we slip into sympathy. Sympathy is when we join in the emotion. The person is sad and we become sad. This takes us out of the role of supporting the sad person. Empathy is relating and supporting. It is a role, it is not a partnership. Sympathy is to join in the sorrow together.
When we know how to and are capable of comforting others then we know how and are capable of finding comfort within us as well. This ability is necessary for us to create deeper experiences of happiness. We need to have comfort. We need to provide it. We need to know how to ask for it and we need to accept it into our lives in order to feel good about ourselves. As it is for us, so is it for all others. Remember, only we can create the life we love to live.