Empathy and the Journey of Healing

“I don’t know what’s worth fighting for, Or why I have to scream, I don’t know why I instigate, And say what I don’t mean. I don’t know how I got this way. I’ll never be alright. So, I’m breaking the habit, I’m breaking the habit tonight.” Linkin Park – Breaking the Habit

Many times in our lives, we find that we are lost in challenges. Whether it is our own challenge or that of a loved one, it can feel overwhelming. Supporters of those facing addiction or other mental health needs often feel like we have to step in and ‘fix it.’ We may try to do whatever it takes to force change; hence the role of empathy.

When ‘Fixing It’ Doesn’t Help

When a supporting person tries to take over the healing process and ‘fix’ the issues, it is highly stressful. It can lead to a huge disconnect between supporters and our struggling loved ones. The disconnect happens because our ‘fix it’ approach removes the critical connecting power of empathy in the relationship. We no longer walk the journey with them but attempt to lead them. Applying the ‘fix it’ mentality, rather than an empathetic mentality, only leads our loved ones to feel like they are broken, powerless, and alone.

Broken Feeling

Through this broken feeling come thoughts like, “I will never be alright because no one around me knows what I am going through.”  This is where we should show the most empathy towards our loved ones. Clearly letting them know that we are walking this journey with them can make a world of difference during the healing process. This acknowledgment is a significant part of empathy. We do not have to walk in their shoes to know the hurt they are feeling because we experience hurt too.

Power in Empathy

We can overcome or learn to manage the challenges we face. This healing process begins with empathy. By openly showing empathy to our loved ones and realizing that this is a path they must walk with support but not by force, we are empowering real change. This promotes profound and lasting healing.