Before we attempt to make sense of our world, our relationships, and our journey, we have to determine the cosmology we will choose to interpret and give meaning to our experiences. Our cosmology is the operating consciousness that informs our actions, determines our beliefs, and sets the horizons of possibilities for the personal journey of self.
This meaning-making-domain is constructed from what our cultural editors teach us and from our own experiences. Since what we learn are culturally contextualized models of the world, we enact our cosmology based on how past experiences influence the interpretations of our future, rather than some universally established reality.
When we tell others we feel their pain, we are only experiencing the stress from imagining what their pain must be like, rather than their pain. But if we neglect to differentiate self from others, our brain will give us the stress response as if we were actually feeling the pain. Bypassing this necessary shifting from self to alterity (otherness), is what fatigues empaths by "caring" at the expense of their own health.
If our cosmology can differentiate empathy (I feel your pain) from compassion (what can I do for your pain?), our brain goes from mirroring the pain of others to selfing agency: compassionate action replaces sharing misery. When it comes to our own struggles and challenges, our cosmology can surface as victim or hero. Victims blames the world, and heros use challenges to cultivate self-discipline and strength. Victimhood leads to poor health (psychoneuroimmunological helplessness), whereas the hero's journey embraces healthy longevity (psychoneuroimmunological empowerment). Both cosmologies are culturally learned and amenable to change. What is your cosmology?
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