Growing up, many of the doctrines and teachings of organized religion taught me to feel bad for people, which never felt right to me.
Last summer, I ran into what I dubbed my last cohabitation and co-dependent friendship with someone struggling with alcohol dependency. Where this may have been the pattern of my relationships in the past, I refused to carry them forward.
In journaling about the scenario, I found that the best I can do when people are struggling is tap into a wellspring of empathy or compassion for what they are experiencing while upholding healthy personal boundaries. Empathy felt freeing for me. I could practice kindness, hold space, and still feel good, myself.
Sympathy on the other hand, kept me feeling bad for this person or scenario. Being the empath that I am, i would absorb those feelings and it triggered my codependent patterns that I’ve been working to heal for the past 10-years.
Empathy is way different than sympathy.
It’s feeling with someone versus feeling bad for someone.
Empathy is grace in action.
I’ll take empathy every time.