Practicing empathy sometimes feels like opening up a secret door into people. And like you have to prepare for the weather when you step out the door, you in someways need to prepare for the emotional state of the person you are being empathetic too. And just like the weather, people can be unpredictable.
Empathy requires trust, it requires faith because once you open yourself up to hearing other people’s experiences you may not find what you expect. You may get more than you bargained for and you may not feel prepared for what people share. It can feel overwhelming to suddenly be entrusted with what something that doesn’t seem to belong to you – and you may feel responsible for mending the shattered intimate feelings that someone may experience. In some ways, it can be really overwhelming and you may feel that no matter what you do, you can’t fix the problem.
Empathy seems to be an ongoing struggle, a strive for perfection that is neverending. And it seems that empathy requires trust in yourself, that you can help, trust that you can handle it as well as a resilience to not let the emotions overtake you and overcome you.