Sunday, October 17, 2010

"I Know What You've Gone Through"

One of the worse things to hear when you are dealing with a crisis is: "I know what you're going through." (Or: "I know just how you feel.")

When you hear someone say that, don't you just want to say, "No. You don't!"

I've been on the giving and receiving end of that kind of useless empathy. I struggled for a long time trying to figure out how to let a friend know that I meant better. Finally, I think I've found two of the best ways to respond when someone confides their problems:

1 - Silence. Just say nothing. Maybe the friend only wanted someone to listen. Or (since I am not in anyway the "silent type") I think I've found a better way to empathize verbally...

2 - Instead of saying "I know how you feel," maybe it's better to say, "I don't know how you feel, but I do know what's it like to go through some things." 
See, everyone has problems. Your problems may not be the same as mine (and vice versa), but any problem is important to the person involved. What I need to work on is not making my problems seem more important than anyone else's. Our problems are always bigger to us - because they are happening to us. I just don't want to be selfish with my empathy.

Now I have something else to pray about! LOL.