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Navigating Life With
Purposeful Empathy

Being empathetic can be such a beautiful trait. The ability to not only sympathise with someone but to place yourself alongside them and with them when they need support, love and grace. To offer not just a shoulder to cry on but to offer some refuge when they need it most. A loving moment that you know could make such a huge difference to their day, whether close by or from afar. 

For so many of us there's never a question that we'll step up when someone needs our support but how do you navigate being an empath in such situations? 

How do you navigate wanting to help and needing to help? How do you navigate the pull to not only ease pain but to take it on? How do you navigate being supportive without diminishing your own ability to be strong enough to offer that support? 

I've always been empathetic but the older I get the more I understand why the saying 'you can't pour from an empty cup' is so common place and I think it was created with us empaths in mind. 

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If someone needs me then I am wholeheartedly open for them. I'll offer, I'll give, I'll be. Whatever they might need I will try my best to love them as they navigate their tough times and I hope that people know that. Empathy can of course be beautiful in so many ways but as the years have gone by, I've also become acutely aware that there are, for lack of much better terms, right and wrong ways to be empathetic. 

As children, we rightly grow up being encouraged to care for other people. To open our hearts for those that need help in lessening their strife. That we should be there when they need us and that to understand what they might need in that moment, we should put yourselves in their shoes. I think however when you're an empath, it's quite easy to take that advice to heart and not only put yourself in someone else's shoes for a moment of understanding, but to struggle with the weight of someone else's sadness even after you've helped. 

I recently heard a term used in an article I was making my way through and it offered more clarity than any of the other adages, sayings and terms I've heard over the years. It was an article on coping in times of stress and when it comes to navigating your own feelings, how you can do so adeptly while also being a source of strength for others.

Have you ever heard of loving detachment? 


It's taken me a very long time to realise that as an empath I can quite easily go from actively comforting a loved one, to taking on so much of their grief that I'm no longer a help to them or even myself.

The term loving detachment is totally new to me but the second my eyes scanned over it I knew I related to it heavily and tucked it away to reference for future moments. It's the act of being able to love someone or a group of people, while also being able to detach yourself from the situation enough, to still be of use to them, all the while protecting your own mental health. At first it seems somewhat unloving and even the word detachment can feel a little harsh, but what use is our support for those who seek it, if we take on so much of their pain, that we can't consistently offer help. 

Growing older has taught me that empathy doesn't always mean placing yourself in someone else's shoes, it can mean offering up your sown hoes so that they can take a break from the heaviness of the situation they find themselves in. Empaths as people tend to feed off others emotions, both the good and the bad, and so taking even a small step back can offer so much perspective and space to help in far more meaningful ways. 

A friend of mine once reminded me that the one thing I can control in life is how I choose to react to situations and that combined with my empathy (something they really kindly described as a gift) is a combination to be envied. I can be logical with my reactions yet soft with my empathy, giving air to the things that are helpful and knowing when's the right time to put those things out into the world.

That made me so grateful to be the empath I am and gave me a view of my empathy I don't think I would have gained otherwise. 


So how can we navigate being an empath online as well as offline? 

In an age where we have access often to too much information, at a speed we simply cannot comfortably keep up with, there's a real need to ensure the information we share is correct, helpful and offers tangible solutions. It can be so easy as an empath to feel overwhelmed with the volume of news and information we could consume, so it needs some of that loving detachment to be purposeful with the time we spend online too. If you're privileged enough to be able to then donate to causes that are actively and immediately offering aid, if you're savvy enough to be able to then share those articles, charities and news platforms that deal in established facts/information and if you have access then reach out to your local officials to share how you need to see them support others in times of crisis. 

There's always something meaningful and helpful we can do, it can sometimes just take a little clarity to see what that something is because being overwhelmed with information does no favours for any of us, online or otherwise. That's not to say being an empath can be willingly turned on and off but learning over time how to navigate that empathy rather than allowing it to consume you, can truly be a more invaluable trait than the empathy you have to give itself. 

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