I've been meaning to write this for a while, because it is something I think about a lot.
If you know me, you know well that I am guilty of putting my foot in my mouth more than the average person. Usually this happens in a situation of intensity, or empathy, when my emotional antennae are stretched way out, trying to *feel* what you are feeling.
I call this the "empathy antenna". Everyone has it. Some people call their empathy antennae 'psychic', but I believe it is much less refined.
Psychic implies that you perceive something and understand it, and know exactly what to make of it. The empathy antenna is more like: I am picking something up, I am not entirely aware of doing so, and I am impulsively acting on information that I unsconciously absorbed.
When Chris hammered his thumb, I kept squeezing it, even though I'd remember that it was hurt as soon as I squeezed it. Same with my finger burned on the oven door. He would grab that finger in particular, even when I tried to pull it away.
Through our segmented sensory receptors, we are finely tuned to unspoken messages - especially with those we love - but we lack the tools to deal appropriately with that information.
In short, we sense the hurt with amazing precision, we go raring for it, but we are all thumbs and left feet.
Which could be the answer to the adage: "why do we hurt the ones we love?" Or, perhaps, the reason why one particular person always calls at an inopportune time, or, perhaps, why it is so brutal to be PMS-ed, when the antenna has crazy, loud reception that you can't turn off or make sense of.
But we are not always clods with our empathy. An exception I have noticed is in when you get blindsided by sickness or sadness or loss: feelings that eclipse or taint all other experiences for a short time. The whole world seems to be filled with comrades in pain. How could you have not noticed this before?
In these situations, alone, we are able to use our crazy, psychic/empathic abilities with accuracy. So if you are feeling overwhelmed by a dominant emotion or experience, revel in it: for a short time, it makes our cloddish empathy evolved and precise.