Are you the person everyone comes to see when they need to vent? Do you spend a lot of time comforting colleagues, friends and family members and then find yourself depressed and exhausted?
We are told that empathy is important in understanding how others feel, and yet it can drain us if we take on too many of someone else’s negative emotions. Practicing compassion along with empathy enables us to relate to others who are suffering without becoming too distressed. Taking actions such as avoiding blame, encouraging cooperation and giving to charitable causes helps us feel that we can make a difference and gives us strength to resist the temptation to wallow in someone else’s misery.
If you are a naturally empathetic person, I invite you to consider approaching the other person’s pain from your point of view rather than trying to mirror their feelings, and notice the impact on your mental health.