Suffering is Optional #116
Cy Wakeman is a newer hero of mine. She is a straight talker who delivers a great dose of reality with her content. She’s a drama researcher by training and is abundant with all she shares.
One of the powerful distinctions she shares is between sympathy and empathy. Sympathy is validating things the way they are and blaming circumstances and conditions for the way that it is right now. If you are offering sympathy to others, you’re supporting them in remaining “stuck.” When you validate things as they are, you’re telling someone they are less than the circumstances they are facing right now, basically powerless or a victim to those circumstances.
Empathy, on the other hand, is a kind acknowledgment that you are struggling right now followed by a call to greatness. So, you’re not negating that the person is challenged at the moment and they can’t see a way out, but it’s followed by a call to greatness which speaks to who they are being greater than the current situation. It is a call to action that moves them into a more resourceful way of thinking.
Our suffering is self-imposed and always optional. It comes from the story you are telling yourself about the way things are and your relationship to them. Your joy is the same; it’s self-imposed and optional.
When you consider suffering, it’s fertile ground. Wherever you hurt or suffer points you to where you need to grow next. Are you ready and willing? If so, don’t seek sympathy. Surround yourself with empathetic people who call you to intentional greatness. (Couldn’t resist! 😊 )