Trading Sympathy For Empathy
As an empath and a highly sensitive person (HSP), I struggle when people are in pain, especially people I love and admire. Growing up I didn’t know why it affected me so much, so the best I could do was give everything I had to try and help make their pain go away.
Until recently it never even occurred to me that this wasn’t exactly what I was supposed to do. I simply thought that exhaustion and resentment were a part of my relationships, that I was a nurturer and that meant that I had to give and give until their pain went away. Or until I had nothing left and I could legitimately say that I had tried. And failed.
Then a dear friend of mine introduced me to the concept of boundaries and I started to see how giving is a choice. How my over-giving had become a compulsion fed by the thrill of helping someone feel better. It was also a way for me to avoid being with the discomfort of not really being able to do anything for them. Because when it comes right down to it, lasting change only happens when choose it for ourselves.
So now I’m practicing holding space. Giving people a place to come when they need to be seen and heard. Giving them the time to explore what they need and figure out what they want. It’s hard not to offer advice, but giving them the space to process their feelings and choose for themselves is so much better for both of us.
More writings for you here: tanyadawn.com/writing
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