Can you feel someone else's pain?

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    Hi all,

    It’s been a while since I posted here. My story is a long one, so I won’t bore you all with the details, but in short my boyfriend of three years and I broke up last year because he ended up getting an arranged marriage to someone from his culture. It was all very sudden, very ugly and very unexpected, and it took me a very long time to even feel remotely ‘okay’ again.

    I have a bit of a weird question: is it possible to feel someone’s pain? Or someone’s sadness? I have a bit of a strange theory and I’m going with it. I’ve noticed over the last few months that every so often I come down with an inexplicable sadness. It will come out of nowhere and is different to the bouts of sadness I get when I remember something to do with my ex or what happened in the end. This sadness feels different, like it’s someone else’s? And my theory is that when you’ve been with someone for a long time and you’ve been very close, and suddenly you’re removed from each other’s lives, you are still connected in some strange way? I somehow believe that whenever he’s going through a rough time I’m feeling it – I know it sounds a bit crazy, but if I’ve learnt one thing over the last 12 months it’s to trust my intuition and that’s what my intuition is telling me. And it makes no difference either way as we don’t talk, but I am interested in whether this is a ‘thing’ or not.

    I know it may sound a bit strange, but I also know this community is very insightful and supportive, so I wondered if anyone else has ever experienced something like this before?



    In Quantum physics you have the theory of entanglement which predicts that two or more particles can become “entangled” so that even after they are separated in space, when an action is performed on one particle, the other particle responds immediately.

    The hermetic principle of vibration also suggest a link to empathy, how we are influenced and how we influence. For example the experience of being at an event like a concert when everyone feels as if they are in sync… In hermetic principle every effect must have a cause however a cause may exist through change in vibration/plane of experience which we may experience as a moment Synchronicity.

    Synchronicity – experiences to which a cause cannot be identified – “meaningful coincidence”, and “acausal parallelism.” Events may be connected by causality, they may also be connected by meaning. Events connected by meaning need not have an explanation in terms of causality.

    Synchronicity may be the only way in which we are able to exercise free will the paradox being that doing so requires the art of doing by not doing as any intention of control would invoke filters and filters are always influenced by external wills.

    It is also important to remember that we are only able to experience the world consciously through the sense of ‘I and me’ which is greatly influenced by the memory of our experiences. We might call these the filters look through as we experience the present. Thus the present moment is seldom seen clearly and so contains elements of illusion.

    In Science they might relate this to this the law of uncertainty and the observer effect. The filters through which we observe something changes what we see and experience.

    Likewise the experience of empathy will be influenced and changed though the filters, memories, experiences of the observer.

    My opinion is that it is possible to know what someone else is experiencing and feeling however it would take a great deal of discernment and self-awareness to separate the observer from the observed and avoid wishful thinking

    A person could spend life time’s dismantling and removing the filters through which consciousness experiences life through.

    Rock Banana

    Your feelings are created by your thinking. I mean ‘thinking’ in a broad sense (all of the impressions you make of “reality”, which you can’t experience directly). Nobody can make you feel anything or share feelings with you, and what you feel is entirely a result of what you are creating in your mind and your body.

    I guess there’s also such things as mirror neurons, and theories around the fact that we may see other people’s behaviour and trigger certain emotions in ourselves in response to what we perceive. However, I imagine that if this plays a role, it is a pretty fleeting one, and certainly wouldn’t lead to prolonged sadness away from the person – it would be something happening fleetingly in the moment of interaction with them.

    Here’s how it works: Reality is really complex and you can’t understand it. So you take all the raw information and stimuli, a huge, vast amount of information. You then filter it and create a simple model in your mind of certain aspects of it all. You then perceive this mind-made created experience as though it is “reality” (which it isn’t). You then JUDGE these perceptions, and these judgements are also mind-made, they are formed of thoughts and thinking / impressions in general. Some of these are in the English language, others are more elusive and perhaps even unconscious. If these judgements are negative in nature you will make yourself feel bad. For example, if you judge your partner’s life situation to be bad, and for it to be bad that he is upset, you can make yourself sad in response.

    This way of seeing things may be a little alien to you at the moment. The point is, it can be bloody empowering when you take it on board, because it quite rightly places you as the creator of your experience. If you believe your moods are directly influenced by your boyfriend, you are a victim to your boyfriend’s moods. Transcend that and you can be more autonomous and less affected. But this is a different way of being, and it may very well not be one that appeals to you. That’s fine. But know that with self-development and time, the option is there.


    Dear Hopefull33:

    Welcome back!

    I believe whole heartedly and whole mindedly that every feeling that you feel is always your feeling. If you saw your ex boyfriend in real life and he expressed to you great sadness, the pain visible in his eyes and face, in his voice, his words and you feel sadness for him, great sadness, it will still be your sadness.

    I don’t believe your sadness is an indication that he is sad. He may be but you have no way of knowing what he feels unless he tells you, you see him and read his facial expressions, hear his voice etc.


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