Understanding empathing

Recently I found myself thinking about someone else’s problem. It was really frustrating but I kept thinking about what I would do if it was me.

From my perspective and experience, this person wasn’t handling the problem in a way that was helpful to them. I felt this way because time had passed and they had taken little to no action to solve the issue. What they were talking about was pretty much the exact same problem they had months before.

At first I thought what I needed to do was be really clear with them about what I thought would help when they asked me for advice and remind them of this when they were getting caught up in the issue.

But then I reminded myself that this wasn’t my issue to solve, so even if I did happen to be ‘right’, I needed to just allow this person to make their own choices without worrying about the outcome.

Even though I knew all this, I still couldn’t understand why it was all bothering me so much. Then it clicked.

I was over-empathing. I wanted to help the person avoid a ‘bad’ outcome. On the surface this may not seem like a bad thing. However, we don’t need to feel other peoples feelings and take on their problems as our own, it’s unhealthy and unhelpful

There is a vast difference between understanding someone is having a hard time and offering them support and burdening yourself with another issue to the point where you’re feeling anxious and overwhelmed.

I think it’s important to be aware of what we’re actually doing when we respond to things because you may have good intentions and you may think that you’re being helpful but you might just be over-empathing.