Monday, July 27, 2015

Sympathy Hurts, Empathy Heals



The system I share to Empower Healers and help us invite Self-Care works as a unit, and is better understood as an experiential whole.  But, I am sharing some pieces, because I believe these distinctions are life-changing for many of us, and those who have 'ears to hear' can hear them, independently.

There are many Healing Distinctions.
I shared 2 in a previous blog post:
- Heal Yourself First
- Heal Yourself and you Heal the World

When I posted this, I received questions that I often hear, in some form, in class.  Like this:
"How can you have empathy if you haven't felt pain?"

My first thought was:
All healers have pain, and have felt pain.  It's not like we need more practice ; )
We are humans, in the earth-game - pain is part of the deal.

My second thought was:
If we are wallowing IN pain, how can we help?
 - If the blind lead the blind, they both fall in a hole, Jesus said.

Do I want a doctor/caregiver/healing helper who is feeling my pain with me?
Or, do I want a healing helper who can help me step out of pain, so I can be empowered & whole.

For me, I have come to the place where I want to live my OWN life, learn my OWN lessons, solve my OWN challenges, grow into OWNing who I am, walk my OWN true path.

I really don't care how my Healer (healing helper) feels about it!
But I can tell you, it doesn't help ME when they get their emotionality All Over Me!


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So, I realized it might be useful for some folks if I share another Healing Distinction.
From my experience, where we stand, where we come-from when assisting others, really matters:
Sympathy Hurts, Empathy Heals 

I define Empathy, like Compassion, as an important part of Love.
This is one of our spiritual senses, I like to call Affinity - 4th chakra.
It is the beautiful experience of the Oneness that IS
- one with Earth, one with Universe, one with Source, one with All our Relations.

We can powerfully connect with someone from Empathy.
This is a heart centered experience...
It can be a Joy for us; and it can make a very Positive difference for folks on their healing journey.

But if I fall into Sympathy, into Pity, things get sticky. For example:
emotionally matching them,
experiencing Their distress as my Own - or conflating the two,
taking-on Their distress as My problem...

When I fall into the Sympathy Game:
I am likely Reacting instead of Acting.
I am likely becoming part of the Problem instead of part of the Solution.
I am likely multiplying the challenging emtions, rather than deescalating them.

Because Sympathy is an emotion centered expereince - 2nd chakra.
It can add a lot of Suffering to Our lives, as healers;
and it makes no Real, Lasting difference for Them - the folks we mean to help.

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So here is a parable of what it can look-like:
If I climb into a hole filled with crap with my friend, and I get stuck there - not only does this not help my friend; Also, I have no time/energy/grace left to help anyone else.
Actually *I* become part of the problem!  *I* now need saving, along with my friend.

When I graduated Lifeguard Training around 1987, the most important thing we were taught was: don't go down with 'em.
If you can not engage them safely, then don't engage at all, because then we will be having two funerals instead of one (ain't nobody got time for that ; )

And here is the thing, only a few years later, Lifeguard Training shifted in a Very Intelligent way - the new rule became - don't engage directly, ever.   
For the general public, the mantra became: “Reach or throw, don't go.” 
For lifeguards: “Make direct rescues with equipment” - always have something for them to grab onto, something that isn't YOU! 

Is the parallel clear enough?
Do Not Go Down With Them! 

We can not help if we are drowning too.

So, to apply this:
We stay out of Sympathy with them.
We practice being Neutral and not being hooked by whatever they may be feeling.
We avoid taking-on their emotions.
We steer clear of making their problems, our problems.


Sometimes advocating for someone's wellness, acting from empathy, can look tender, sometimes it can look fierce.
When I am standing for someone’s wellness, empathy strengthens and informs me.
But, sympathy weakens me - I fall into emotionality, I get lost in the mire.
I am not free to be in compassion, and I am not empowered to fiercely fight for their freedom.


I lived for decades, energetically taking on other's pain, meaning to help.
I am an Empath, that is what Empaths naturally do - energetically feel what other’s feel.
I really suffered.
But, it helped no one,
and it almost killed me - literally.

I have repented of that path. 
Now I help people every day
and I am free to live in love, joy, peace
- I am learning to Live!

I have found it is unnecessary and painful to suffer with people,
I have found that love looks like helping them to stop the suffering! not adding more!
This is my experience, what is your experience, friends?
- Wendy

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