Empathy – A Delicate Balance

I want to talk about empathy. Mostly due to Terrible Writing Club, but it’s also something I think about often. When struggling with anxiety and depression, empathy is a fascinating creature, well with me at least. I believe that empathy is an essential quality in a person, but there’s also delicate balance when it comes to empathy- for yourself and others. For me, it’s a complicated topic.

I often lack empathy for myself and am usually overly consumed by empathy for others. When I make a simple mistake, I often I deserved to be shot. Yes, shot because I forgot something small. I took a wrong turn. I believe that I should have bodily harm done to myself because of it. I lack empathy for myself. My foolish big mistakes that happened in the past, it’s because I was and still am an idiot. That I deserved to be punished. My anxiety and depression lesson my worthiness. Sometimes I don’t believe I’m worthy of forgiveness. I worry about how others are feeling before I worry about myself. I don’t give myself the space that I need. I don’t give myself space I deserve, but I need to be there for others.

When it comes to others, I’m the exact opposite. My heart and my mind are open. I’m always willing to show up for others and be there for others. Willing to hear them. Willing to be present with them. Willing to give my time. I often find myself not being able to get mad at a person, because I can empathize with them. I see myself being overly forgiving. I think I often confuse empathy with being a sucker, for lack of a better term. My empathy for others over goes my empathy for myself.

For me, empathizing with others comes naturally. I do take some pride in that. But when it comes to empathizing with myself, it’s something I still struggle with. I have grown. I no longer think that I deserve to get shot when making a mistake. I balance having empathy for others and ignoring my wellbeing. Still hearing others and being with them, but being there for myself as well. Allowing myself to be angry at a person, even though I still have empathy for them.

I still don’t think I understand empathy fully yet. I don’t always understand my role. I don’t always understand what to do. But I’m trying. I’m trying to have empathy for myself and others, which is an interesting balancing act

1 thought on “Empathy – A Delicate Balance”

  1. I don’t think I fully understand empathy (or anything really!). I have found like you said where it’s easy to be hard on yourself yet more gracious to others at times, like giving them the benefit of the doubt. I can say with clarity that after I had my first debilitating anxiety attack last year, I suddenly found I had a new deep sense of empathy towards anyone with mental health struggles; I wouldn’t wish the severe anxiety on my worst enemy.
    Anyways, I hope you keep growing in empathy for yourself and others. Take care.


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