When we feel like reacting negatively to someone, they are helping to bring out what we haven’t healed in ourselves. How can there be blame and anger towards those that bring up our shadows? Instead, we could replace our resentment with compassion for ourselves and those who hurt us.
We all have invisible wounds and we’ll do anything to avoid them being touched. If someone else accidentally touches our wounds, we act as if they caused them. But, they didn’t cause them, and they cannot heal them. They are our wounds and we have the power to heal them.
Sympathy is about feeling for someone: seeing their distress and realising that they are suffering. Compassion means to act on this, to ease their suffering. Empathy is about experiencing those feelings for yourself, as if you were that person, through the power of imagination.
Being mindfully aware of your surroundings, especially the behaviours and expressions of other people, is crucial for empathy. Practicing mindfulness in this way helps us take the perspectives of other people yet not feel overwhelmed when we encounter their negative emotions.