There are times when “I’m sorry” is the best we can offer a hurting soul. Ultimately, sympathy is not beneficial to healing though. What sympathy says is ‘I see you’re hurt and I feel sorry for you,’ which can bring up more pain sometimes. While you may feel sorry for someone, it is empathy that helps us heal. Recognizing anothers struggle in relation to your own struggles to express “you’re not alone” is where space is held for healing.
There are dozens of go-to catch phrases people will use too, “everything happens for a reason”, “at least you’re not…”, “everyone’s struggling” can dismisses the individual struggle. We do all struggle sometimes, not one of us are living a completely perfect life. Adversity is woven into the threads of existing. To exist is to feel, to think, to grow. Sitting in sympathy for yourself or others can lead to stagnation. It’s saying there’s nothing to be done, except feel sorrowful.
Sometimes sympathy is all we can truly offer and that’s ok too. If someone seeks your console, to lean on you, when you are feeling low yourself: speak up. It is ok to share your sympathy and even express you’re not able to sit with them in empathy for their struggle. We are all responsible for our own well-being first. It’s ok to say no. Be mindful, our words always carry meaning.
The point in this post is to bring awareness to the differences of sympathy and empathy. None of us benefit from only being pitied. We all need someone to lean on in challenging times. If you find yourself in a support position with someone, and you’re able to be supportive, might I suggest this question: do you need me to listen or help you problem solve? This creates a ‘safe space’ to be vulnerable with you.
When it comes to healing, you -have to- be honest. No exceptions. Deceit only causes delays and is not beneficial. If you are not honest with yourself or others you will not make progress in healing. The work is difficult because it is staring the traumas of your life directly in the face and learning to not break down. Some struggles are deeper rooted than others too.
You know the truth for your own existence. Tap into your feelings and be honest. This is easier for some than others and that’s ok too. The more practice you give to honor what you’re feeling the more you’ll attune to your authentic being and be able to see the world for what it is, not what you imagine or recall it being. Often we collect cognitive distortions in our lives, believing false narratives and it takes time to rewire our thought patterns. Keep searching.
Be well, sweet souls. 💛
If you identify with the neurodivergent community, would appreciate an adult space with a focus on support and betterment, I’d like to invite you to check out my discord server! Where shame, blame and devaluation are discouraged while compassion and personal growth are encouraged. The server is designated mature (18+) and minors are promptly removed. Multiple categories allow Members to decide what sort of content they’d like to see from the server using selections in the #about-you channel after joining. You’re invited!