07 May Thoughts about the subject of Empathy
It is said that empathy, is the ability to understand and share deeply, the feelings of another. Whereas sympathy is the description of a “sorry” feeling, we have for another persons’ situation.
That seems a fair enough way to explain the difference. On a general level. However, the feeling of empathy is a person who is “sensitive” to experiences. That description magnified a few hundred times!
I can only speak for myself. When I “sense” another person feelings and without meaning to, tune into their worries, problems and fears. It is like “becoming” that person and taking on their emotions as if I’m wearing them like a cloak. Standing in the queue in a supermarket, I find it hard not to engage with someone who is emitting such a feeling of loneliness or sadness. The need to reach out to them and talk to them. Hug them. Often overwhelming: and many times, I ‘give in” and simply go ahead and start a conversation, in the hope of being able to help a little.
It is an extraordinary thing. I’m sure, having a woman you’ve never met, before coming up to you in the shopping queue to admire the jewellery you are wearing. To which, she tells you that it was a gift from your Mother and then ask, “Are you thinking of your Mum today?” It does happen, and I’ve done it!
My family know that I will, “talk to a tree” – and I do.
Trees have energy as well and love a little affection and conversation, but that’s for another day. For now, we’re merely chattering about empathy to try to explain how “being sensitive” works. So very many people are “empathetic” to others. Some have no idea why they feel as they do and others, like me, I suppose, try to work on those feelings and positively use them to help another.
Empaths find grey skies “heavy” in energy terms. But so do many people. I personally find being in a city or being surrounded by concrete, almost like being suffocated. The buildings take the air and energy out of the world. And, I need to be away from them as quickly as possible.
Someone who is grieving breaks my heart. Their pain is mine and their loss, like losing someone I love too. I just want to reach out to them, to hug and comfort them.
Empathy is a gift for sure. It allows us, as humans, to connect more deeply and to understand one another a little more. However, it requires strength and understanding. For example, it’s easy to believe a painful emotion or fear or mood that suddenly hits you. It may not belong to you and is apparently part of the person standing close to you. To “let it go” requires recognizing it and literally “letting it go”. Or, acting upon it. Trying to help the person, then clearing the feelings out of your personal energy space. Once gone, you can feel sympathy but don’t need to own it, or “wear” it.
There is something very precious about feeling empathy. It is a gift but one to be used wisely. The more technologically advanced we humans become, the less we seem to like our true feelings to show through. It’s almost like “there are machines for that!”
Yet, what could be better than REALLY knowing the true feelings of another? Of being able to offer comfort or a real, listening ear?
I think of it like being like a radio: Empaths receive the vibrations and ‘hear’ the sound. Though the hearing is often “feeling” rather than sound. Empathy is the means to fully sense and understand then step forward to help. If that help is welcomed. Often it is not!
The phrase “Care but not that much” doesn’t sit well with empathy. But that’s not a bad thing!