Empathy and Understanding- What I’ve Learned 

Alright ya’ll, light your candles, burn your palo santo, your sage, whatever you use to really cleanse the environment around you as we get ready for another little therapy session here LOL.

I got a ton of great feedback from my post last week covering my thoughts on boundaries, so thank you for that! I’m so happy it resonated well with a lot of you. In the beginning of 2023, I made a list of words and ideas that I wanted to cover here and I really wanted to spend this year reflecting and focusing on what living “my best life” meant to me. As I’ve said before, a big hurdle for me (which I’m continually working on everyday), is not people pleasing to the point where I’m doing things for others that I really don’t want to do. Because in all honesty, I’ve spent my life doing that and I feel like I really hit a wall with it all. SO my hope is that if you’re dealing with that, that maybe my posts here and my experience can help you out!

Okay, so to follow up on my blog post last week on boundaries, which I know probably set a very strong tone (as it was intended too), I’d like to discuss some terms I’ve reflected upon recently: empathy and compassion and what these words mean to me.

Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

This is the Google definition of the word.  To me, empathy means putting yourself in the shoes of another and trying to see a situation from another perspective. I believe having the ability to empathize with another is a great characteristic to have and is one that also shows a certain maturity about a person. 

I believe that a person’s ability to show empathy is something to be determined by that specific person. I also think you can empathize with someone without compromising your own morals and values. Just because you give empathy to someone, doesn’t mean that you have to hang around them or talk to them everyday, especially if these people bring negativity or toxicity into your life. I believe you should always show empathy and kindness to people whenever you get the chance. When it comes to setting boundaries, if you’ve set a boundary and someone is saying you don’t have “empathy” in response to that boundary, I think it’s important to ask the question -are they really be empathetic to you?  

Compassion : sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.

Again, this is the Google definition of the word I’ve shared. I believe we should all lead with compassion and with kindness in any aspect of our lives. Without compassion for one another, what else do we really have in this world?

Compassion can look different for a lot of people and I believe in your daily life, you should display acts of compassion in any way you can, which might mean speaking with kindness, rooting for those around you, offering to help someone out with a task, or just simply accepting people for who they are. We definitely need more compassion and kindness in this world!

Being a compassionate person is, in my opinion, a great quality to have, but is also something to be weary of. I think compassionate people can get taken advantage of if you’re not careful. Speaking from experience, showing compassion is something we should absolutely lead with in any way we can (as stated above), but there also comes a point where a line must be drawn. I think the term or idea of compassion gets confusing when it’s used as an insult or as a way to force someone to do something they’re not comfortable with. And when it comes to showing compassion, I believe you can have compassion for someone; you can feel for their suffering and their struggles but still distance yourself for your own mental health and peace of mind, if that is what you need.

Relating this directly back to my previous post on boundaries- if you’ve set a boundary and are then accused of not being empathetic or compassionate to others because of those boundaries- in my opinion, these are the incorrect uses of the words. You can’t accuse someone of not being empathetic or compassionate just because they are unwilling to bend on a certain boundary that they’ve expressed.

Well there you have it! I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments!

One comment

  1. Wow this is great!!! I am learning in counseling that it’s okay to say no and not feel guilty. Because you’re not saying no to be mean or malicious. You’re saying no because you don’t want to do something and that’s okay. If the other person takes it that way. That’s on them. I will admit it takes getting used to. But I am working on it and it feels great! Great reading Amanda!!!


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