When Feelings Speak Louder Than Words-#1000 Speak for Compassion

I love words. Writing words allows me to express myself like no other way does. Words swirl around in my brain, and eventually make it to my fingertips in the form of expression. However, words also have a certain limit to them. For example, take the term “Thank you.” Here are some situations where I might say “Thank you.”

*Someone holds the door for me*

“Thank you!”

*The woman fixing the vending machine gives me my snack for free*

“Thank you!”

*My friend lets me rant to her over chat on a night when I feel like I can’t take it anymore*

“Thank you!”

In each case, it was the same two words, yet the level of and reason for gratitude was completely different. Looking at only the response words, it is not clear that the three situations are even different at all. This is one example of how words can sometimes have limits that do not allow them to express a true feeling.

Here’s a slightly different example.

There is a myth that people with autism don’t feel empathy. This post from Seriously Not Boring is an example of one way that someone with autism feels and expresses empathy. It reminded me of an experience I had in second grade.

One of my classmates had a sore throat and trouble breathing, so she went to the office. She came back after a while with a glass of water, feeling better. During this. I had started crying and was on the verge of having a panic attack. My teacher sent me to the office, where one of the secretaries talked to me. She said something like, “I know. I know it’s hard. You feel so much empathy for everyone. You are so caring.” Her words meant a lot to me. I realized that I had been so overwhelmed by the feelings of my classmate that I hadn’t known how to deal with them or express the feelings in words.This is common for people with anxiety, so it is not surprising.

I was also reminded of this recently in a different way. I am currently volunteering at a summer camp, and there was a kid in one of the groups, let’s call him “Dylan.” He was maybe 5 or 6 years old or so, and was a little “different” from the rest of the kids. He had trouble expressing himself in words, and was having a hard time participating in the games. I don’t know if he was on the autism spectrum or just a bit “quirky,” he was having a hard time participating in the game we were playing. At one point, one of the other kids in the group began to cry. One of the counselors went over to comfort him. Dylan went to the edge of the boundaries for the game we were playing, and stared at the other kid, visibly distressed. “It’s okay Dylan, he’ll be okay. I know you don’t like it when people cry,” one of the other counselors said to him. I immediately thought of my experience in second grade. I knew what he was feeling. Overwhelmed by the emotions of his classmate. Unable to express the feeling in words.

Now, you’re probably wondering what all this had to do with the “Thank you” example above. Both cases are examples of the “correct” words not being appropriate or available in the situation. Yet, so much of life in our society revolves around the expression of words, that the situation with Dylan, or the one with me, could have easily been misinterpreted. Instead of acknowledging it as empathy, the adults in the situations could have very easily brushed us off as paranoid, busy bodies, or crybabies, all of which would have only made the situation worse. By understanding that we couldn’t express ourselves in words at that moment, the adults in each situation recognized that we were experiencing overwhelming empathy, not just being paranoid.

So, next time you see someone overwhelmed by their emotions, or hear someone else claim that they can’t feel empathy, remember that they may in fact be experiencing empathy so strong that they can’t express it in words. Instead of judging them, accept and recognize their unique way of expressing empathy when the feelings speak louder than the words. That is true compassion.

From the #1000 Speak For Compassion Website:

“Bloggers from all over the world are coming together to talk about compassion on the 20th of each month.  The 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion movement was born when blogger and author Yvonne Spence organized over 1000 bloggers to post about compassion in one epic event on February 20, 2015.  The response was so great that it was decided to continue the #1000Speak project on a monthly basis, with a different topic each month.”

What’s In My Pen Name?

In case you have not already figured it out, my name is not actually The Dreamer. Those of you who are reading this and know me in real life should know my real name. If you know me in real life and don’t know my real name, I have some other concerns, but that’s beside the point. Anyway, I thought I should have a post explaining my pen name and why I chose it. This post also includes the first of something I want to do on this blog called song analysis. I kinda sorta stole this idea from the people who comment at http://www.songmeanings.com. In a song analysis, I will go through a song (or part of one) line by line, or stanza by stanza in some cases, and analyze what the song means to me. I don’t like normal pop music, so it is very possible that you will have never heard of most of the songs I analyze. That is fine. Anyway, back to this post.

I got the idea for my pen name from a Josh Woodward song called The Dreamers. Here is the song line by line, with what it means to me and how it relates to my blog below each part:

Here’s one for dreamers, who took that step

Here’s one for every time they jumped without a net

I’m taking a risk by starting this blog. I don’t know if anyone will read it, or how people will respond. I don’t know how much to share about myself and how much to keep private. Most people don’t expect teens to start blogs. So I am taking a leap without a net beneath me.

Here’s one for misfits, who broke the rules

Who feared the boredom more than scorn or ridicule

At first I thought this was about literal rules being broken, but then I realized that it is actually referring to the complex social “rules” of our society. I am one of these “misfits.” I don’t want to conform to society, and in some ways, I can’t. I can’t easily wear jeans or go to movie theaters. These are small things, but they have made me realize that conformity is actually fairly boring. From these small things I can’t do, I have learned to do what I want to do, rather than what society tells me to.

[This next part is the chorus]

You’re scared to fly, in the endless sky

When the voices say that there’s no way you’ll ever make the grade

Despite all this, I am scared. Scared to explain to my friends why I can’t go to the movies with them. I was afraid to start this blog, afraid that I would be written off for being young. I wonder how anyone else will find my work. Small stuff. I sweat it. Big stuff. I sweat it. The voices in my head try to convince me that I can’t do it.

Let’s say you try, and you fall from high

When the sun has set, will you regret the fall?

Or the times you did nothing at all?

What if I try, and I fail? What if no one finds my blog, or people hate it? But which would be worse, trying, or not trying? If I don’t try at all, not only have I failed, but I haven’t learned anything. Everything is over until it starts.

Here’s one for magic, that lives within

For seeing beauty in the commonest of things

Here’s one for passion, without restraint

To those who stumble to the ground and feel no shame

When I write, I’m often barely consciously thinking at all; it just pours out. I can’t reread my writing later, especially if it is emotional, because I will suddenly become my own critic. But when I’m writing, it’s like magic in my brain. A spark ignited. I feel the emotion that I am writing in. With the ideas in my brain and the keys at my fingertips, I am unstoppable.

[Chorus]

Failure’s always is an option

But doubt’s the fatal toxin

That leaves your dreams to wither on the vine

Countless times I have begun to write something, come back to it later, and gotten stuck. I reread what I have written over and over, finding every single thing wrong. The magic is gone. It is this that has kept me from writing, which is what I love. I have to realize that it is okay for me to fail. It is okay if I can’t continue. It will take practice and determination, but I have to keep doubt from ruining my dreams.

Why is your brain refusing?

What are you scared of losing?

If you don’t try, you’ll fail every time

There are some times where I want to write, or want to say something, or want to do something, but my brain just won’t let me. My self-critic goes off, stopping the words in their tracks, or some unnecessary panic alert goes off. If I really think about it, nothing will be lost by saying or writing it. I have to learn to use the “override” button on my brain when necessary to make myself pursue my dreams.

Here is a link to the song on Josh Woodward’s website. I strongly suggest you check out his music, as it is amazing! (No, I am not getting paid to say that. It really is.) http://www.joshwoodward.com/song/thedreamers

Oh, and the 01 at the end of my username? It’s because “the dreamer” was taken, and I wanted to put a number after it with some meaning to it. 2001 is my birth year, so I decided to use 01.

So here I am, hitting the “publish” button on my first blog post. I have no idea how this is going to go, but I invite you to join my crazy blogging adventure!

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