Are you or someone you know an “empath” or someone who “feels” the mental or emotional state of others? Is it effecting yours or their life, health and happiness while others feel better?
If so, I have a new way of looking at empathy today, one that can change your life, happiness and health.
I want you to move from being empathetic to being compassionate. I’m not suggesting you stop caring and don’t support others, I’m simply suggesting that you start to support other with healthy boundaries for yourself.
Empathy is the the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. The key issue is that word “share”. When we share the feelings of another we take them on as well. For many highly empathetic people (especially women from what we’ve seen in our clients), the empath actually takes on the feeling or emotion from the other person, making them feel worse and drained while their friend has in essence effectively just dumped their problems off for them to be dealt with by someone else.
The “friend” actually knows who to go to when they need to “off-load” their problems and they Know that the empath with always be there because of the lack of boundaries and self-confidence. It’s a symbiotic relationship of sorts, both parties are getting exactly what they want.
If you no longer want to be the local dumpsite for everyone else’s emotional garbage try this: Say “no.” Start to create boundaries and be clear that you are willing to be supportive but not willing to take on their issues.
Compassion is the desire for all beings to be happy and free of suffering. Compassion is empathy without attachment, it is empathy with boundaries.
The key focus here is that you want others to be free of suffering and are willing to support them, but you also understand that it is not your work to “fix” others problems or issues as that is their own work to own and clean up. Compassion also requires that we do not judge what others are going through and we respect the fact that they may need to fail or be in pain in order to grow, learn and transform.
Some of my greatest transformations have come from deep hurt and failure, these lessons forced me to change and become something and someone new. If my teachers or friends would have solved my problems for me, then I would have never grown and never cleaned myself up.
Is this not true for you as well? Do not steal others rights to be in pain and to get themselves out of it in order to change their own lives on their own timelines and in their own ways. This is compassion.
The next time someone with a full dump truck off emotional garbage to offload, you now have a choice; empathy or compassion.
One will set you free the other will trap you. Which do you want to chose?
Dedicated to your growth,
Nick + Justin
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Nick Palladino-King teaches students and clients how to reduce stress, to increase happiness and to elevate health through yoga, wellness coaching and strength training.