“What’s the point of listening if you don’t try to help?”
“Getting into the hole? What for? Now you’re both in the hole. Why don’t you rescue them?”
“Empathy is about as useless as a wet rag if that’s all you do.”
I wouldn’t have thought that my post differentiating sympathy and empathy would generate so much heat but it did.
Yes there are situations when practical help is needed, such as
– rescuing those who’ve been affected by disaster
– providing shelter for those fleeing abuse and aggression
– helping with food parcels for the hungry and vulnerable
How about if someone’s grieving, or struggling with flashbacks from abuse in childhood or from their last military posting?
How about if someone’s struggling with mental illness?
When you engage in active listening without judgement, without trying to problem solve, sometimes you can help them “unjumble” their thoughts.
This can leave them with a bit more space to contemplate options.
I believe that all of us can become a lot more resourceful when we have space to breathe, and to take stock of things.
There is power in just being there to listen.
Even those who genuinely need professional help to untangle trauma and abuse benefit from being surrounded by supportive people who would just listen.
With empathy and compassionate.
It tells the speaker that you care.
And that you hear them.
That’s one of the most basic human needs.
To be heard.
And that is what we all deserve. 🌹