One of the reasons why we feel stuck in situations is due to overempathy. This is when we put ourselves in what we think is the other person’s shoes and then project our own stuff on to it, including our agenda.

In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I share examples of overempathy and delve into how and why this happens, as well as how to recognise it and break the habit.

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Some nuggets from the episode:

  • Empathy is about being able to put ourselves in another person’s shoes and get a sense of what they might be thinking and feeling, or what they may have gone through, even if we have no experience of it ourselves. We don’t have to agree with their position, but we do have to acknowledge that they have one, and also that they are different from us.
  • In, for example, a situation where we need to end it with someone who isn’t over their ex, when we over-empathise, we think about how we wouldn’t like someone to finish it with us or how we would like someone to take a chance on us and invest themselves even if we weren’t available.
  • One of the barriers to being genuinely empathetic is perceiving overempathy as ‘seeing the best in others’. Actually, when we stop feeling as if it’s our duty to manufacture ‘the best’ in others, we draw on our experience of them and use this to guide our boundaries and subsequent actions and choices.

People need our empathy and boundaries more than they need our silence.

  • Empathy, like compassion, incidentally, is a full circle action and mentality. We can’t claim to be empathetic while hating on ourselves.
  • Compassion means recognising that everyone has a backstory, everyone is struggling, and not everything is about us. This doesn’t mean that we dismiss our experiences, but more that we recognise people’s humanness by also recognising ours.
  • Empowering others means helping others to help themselves. This is very different to being their solution or saviour.
  • Genuine empathy feels good. It doesn’t detract from us.

Links mentioned

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