Empathy, Perfectionism & the Big H

Have you ever noticed how you can kind of divide your life into eras? Like that was my “I’m too cool for makeup” era. Or that was my “skirts everyday” era. Well this seems to be my “learning to be kind to myself, battling perfectionism & researching happiness” era.


Part of it is by choice. I have been working on my Happiness research project lately. I’ve read several books (The Happiness Project, Happy for No Reason, Happiness Hypothesis, The Gifts of Imperfection).

But really, all of these books in some way tackle perfectionism and empathy. And FlyLady addresses them too – especially perfectionism.

So I’ve been thinking about these things a lot.

Then, today, I read Aunt Becky‘s post on Band Back Together (aka BB2G). She started a mission this year called the Bring Back the Happiness World Tour. I swear this topic is stalking me right now. Anyway, today, she declared February to be Empathy Month.

So here I am. 7 months late. Oh well… I’m trying…

To me, empathy and perfectionism are both so intertwined. And both are such a big part of happiness – my overall theme this year.

I’m an over-empathizer. I’m the type who can’t watch an episode of Friends without cringing in embarrasment for one of the characters. When someone describes how they felt I feel it too. Some people in the past have called me hyper-sensitive. One of my favorite compliments I’ve ever received was from a professor in college who said to me “You have such an enormous heart. But with that comes an enormous capacity for heartbreak.” Which I guess says a lot about me that I even took that as a compliment. But I did and I still do cherish the description of me.

So how does that tie in to perfectionism? A couple of ways actually:

Well, because I feel shitty everytime someone around me feels shitty, I absolutely HATE causing anyone to feel shitty. So I go around trying to prevent causing anyone any kind of unpleasant emotion. It doesn’t always work. Hell, it hardly ever works. But I really do fear causing other people pain.

So I try to be *perfect* in my dealings with other people.

I know, laugh it up.

The thing is, the few times I’ve tried to stand up for myself without regard for others’ feelings or to stop taking responsibility for things that aren’t my fault I’ve offended someone I cared about.

Experience is a powerful teacher.

So really, I’m trying to find a middle ground. Where I show my empathy for others and honor their feelings WHILE saying what I need to say.

I’m not going to be perfect. I will screw up. And that’s okay. Because the books all tell me one thing for sure:

Striving for happiness will always make you at least a little bit happier.

And I need all the help I can get these days…


Next time: Self-empathy…seriously it’s a thing…


About Katya

Teetering on the Edge of Crazy but the view's pretty rad out here View all posts by Katya

One response to “Empathy, Perfectionism & the Big H

  • jtook

    I’ve recently tried to start saying what I mean, without hurting other people’s feelings. But, someone always gets hurt and I try to make them understand that what I say is MY opinion/thoughts. They have a right to feel badly about what I say, just as I have a right to say what I feel. Knowing that has helped me to say what I mean and am feeling without too much guilt.

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