The Pros and Cons of Empathy

By March 8, 2019 Uncategorized

We don’t owe the collective the gift of suffering with them.

~ Bill Bauman

Empathy is an interesting thing. For some of us, especially folks with a water sign ascendant or Neptune conjunct the ascendant, we cannot resist feeling empathy for others. Others of us may not feel others’ concerns as strongly. Yet, I will guess that most of us have felt deep empathy for another human being at some time in our lives.

The dictionary defines empathy as identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives.

Like everything here on Earth, there are pluses and minuses to the feeling of empathy.

It is “good” to notice the needs of others. If all of life is one expression of creation and we are one with all life, then the needs of others are somehow entangled with our needs. Once we notice this, we may be called to give assistance to another.

In fact, in the act of helping others, we have the opportunity to recognize our own wellbeing. When I see a homeless person on the street seeking a handout and feel inspired to give, I remember that by giving, I am acknowledging my own abundance. Whether the person spends it on booze or breakfast, I am thankful that I have the abundance to give.

On the other hand, there was a time in the past when I felt an obligation to respond to every situation where someone was in need. I was the one who volunteered and said “yes” whenever asked.

Sadly, I often ended up feeling stressed out, over-worked, and resentful. When I finally became honest with myself, I realized that I had been doing things out of the need to be loved. By trying to earn others’ love by doing “good works,” I ended up denying my own needs. This is not living in balance. I had to learn how to open up to receive help myself when I needed it.

Negatively, I was also causing others to be dependent on me, which in the long run is detrimental to their wellbeing. Long-term dependence on others is not healthy. By stepping in and helping, often when not even invited, I had prevented others from discovering what they had to offer – what gifts they had to give.  

I offer one more perspective on empathy. When you watch or read the news about human suffering of any kind, do you feel devastated, distraught, or down-hearted in any way? How is your suffering over the news of someone else suffering of any real assistance?

Rather than feel disabled over human suffering, let your heart send them love. If there is anything you can do – such as sending money or volunteering to help – then do it. If there isn’t, then just send a prayer and let God handle it from there.

Remember, we do not owe anyone the gift of suffering with them. The best gift you can give the world is a life well lived in love, peace, and joy.

We don’t owe the collective the gift of suffering with them.

~ Bill Bauman

Empathy is an interesting thing. For some of us, especially folks with a water sign ascendant or Neptune conjunct the ascendant, we cannot resist feeling empathy for others. Others of us may not feel others’ concerns as strongly. Yet, I will guess that most of us have felt deep empathy for another human being at some time in our lives.

The dictionary defines empathy as identification with and understanding of another’s situation, feelings, and motives.

Like everything here on Earth, there are pluses and minuses to the feeling of empathy.

It is “good” to notice the needs of others. If all of life is one expression of creation and we are one with all life, then the needs of others are somehow entangled with our needs. Once we notice this, we may be called to give assistance to another.

In fact, in the act of helping others, we have the opportunity to recognize our own wellbeing. When I see a homeless person on the street seeking a handout and feel inspired to give, I remember that by giving, I am acknowledging my own abundance. Whether the person spends it on booze or breakfast, I am thankful that I have the abundance to give.

On the other hand, there was a time in the past when I felt an obligation to respond to every situation where someone was in need. I was the one who volunteered and said “yes” whenever asked.

Sadly, I often ended up feeling stressed out, over-worked, and resentful. When I finally became honest with myself, I realized that I had been doing things out of the need to be loved. By trying to earn others’ love by doing “good works,” I ended up denying my own needs. This is not living in balance. I had to learn how to open up to receive help myself when I needed it.

Negatively, I was also causing others to be dependent on me, which in the long run is detrimental to their wellbeing. Long-term dependence on others is not healthy. By stepping in and helping, often when not even invited, I had prevented others from discovering what they had to offer – what gifts they had to give.  

I offer one more perspective on empathy. When you watch or read the news about human suffering of any kind, do you feel devastated, distraught, or down-hearted in any way? How is your suffering over the news of someone else suffering of any real assistance?

Rather than feel disabled over human suffering, let your heart send them love. If there is anything you can do – such as sending money or volunteering to help – then do it. If there isn’t, then just send a prayer and let God handle it from there.

Remember, we do not owe anyone the gift of suffering with them. The best gift you can give the world is a life well lived in love, peace, and joy.

 

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