Tag Archives: the other side of empathy

The other side of empathy

Standard

I have a confession to make. I feel and I see more than others usually do. And it’s not easy staying grounded and open to others. I learned that key is to be discerning, so that my empathy does not attract people who drain my energy.

Empathy, etymologically, comes from the Greek word pathos, “passion” or “suffering”.  I learned from Wikipedia that the term was adapted by Hermann Lotze and Robert Vischer to create the German word Einf├╝hlung (“feeling into”), which was translated by Edward B. Titchener into the English term empathy. 

Everytime I feel into someone’s feelings, I pay an emotional price. Empathy can cause emotional overwhelm, research shows. I also learned that the empathy-receiver might not be on the net benefits side either. Here is a story:

Some time ago, a colleague struggling at work, rebuffed with “you have to be more empathetic towards me!”. What she did not realise was the energy I was already giving her and that she was responsible for the situation she was in. By being empathetic towards her situation, i was doing her a huge disfavour. She would continue to be in a victim’s role she assumed herself. The moment I stopped acting like a “golden fish” of understanding and giving and she stopped asking for more, she learned to take things into her hands and move on, as a responsible adult.

So I learned to give empathy with moderation, set and be clear about boundaries and  encourage others to take responsibility for their own situation. So that we all benefit from a healthy and meaningful dose of empathy for harmonious relations. 

Advertisements