em·pa·thy | ˈem-pə-thē
1 : the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner
also : the capacity for this
I have always known that people feel empathy to different depths and extents, but in recent weeks, I learnt that it is not a natural response or experience for everyone. There are so many factors to that, thus just as a general reminder to not hold any judgements to that, because it could be in our genes, it could be due to the culture we were brought up in, it could be past experiences (and thus, a coping/defence mechanism), it could be so many different things.
“Empathy takes time, and efficiency is for things, not people.”~ Stephen Covey
A more interesting thing to address would be certain hesitancy to empathy that arose in my recent conversations with different groups of people. Some worry about getting overwhelmed when they start feeling the emotions of others (“as though my emotions are not overwhelming enough!”); or burned out when they start understanding what others are feeling (“and they start flooding to me with their negativities”); or overstimulated from thinking about other people’s problems (“when I feel them, I have to solve them”).
For myself, since I am naturally empathic, it is really more a matter of just accepting it, and finding ways to deal with it (well-developed over decades!). That said, I can understand when people raise their concerns about being more empathic (it is one of the psychic senses we open up, in order to be more effective as a healer/intuitive), for they fear becoming too sensitive and start drawing people’s (garbage/negative) thoughts and emotions to them. But it is a gift as well, not just it being a psychic gift, but also a gift to the people around us – it helps the world when more people have empathy, and more people have the (heart and mind) space to understand and care for others. And the plus point is that we can learn (or what we call “download”) discernment, plus imperviousness to the negativity of others. We can set and maintain healthy boundaries which will keep the negativity (or that which do not belong to us) at bay.
“Learning to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, that’s how peace begins. And it’s up to you to make that happen. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world.”~ BARACK OBAMA
Some find it daunting, seeing it as a burden to carry, or rather a burden that one should not and need not carry. I fully agree and accept that it is really not a burden one should carry. And we really need not view it as so. Over time, I have learned not to carry another’s burden, through a multitude of “balancing factors”. Factors such as (to name a few, we can add many more to list):
- Acceptance – that there is only so much we can do, yet we can still choose to do the best within our means
- Detachment – it is different from nonchalance
- Discernment – of when what applies
- Healthy boundaries
- Service – helping people when it is within our means
- Courage – to face the situation, or even to just see it for what it is
In ThetaHealing, we consider these virtues – that we come to this earth to learn and practice. We are all learning and practicing different ones, depending on our soul plans and missions and the like. So I guess maybe it is different priorities of learnings as well -some may have got more important virtues to learn before working on deepening the spiritual understanding of these. (Again, no judgement here, in no order of priority, we all come here with different soul plans.)
Embrace and expand. The world can be made much more loving when we do so. <3
Useful resource for empaths: https://drjudithorloff.com/empathy-career-ef/
Thank you DWilliam for the background image https://pixabay.com/photos/two-red-hearts-love-symbol-631357/