I don’t think joining others in their suffering is a necessary aspect of empathy. I find caring and compassion to be very positive feelings.
If I see someone in emotional pain, I also see that within them is a seed of joy that they’ve simply lost touch with. I can understand why they’re feeling bad (empathy), but that doesn’t mean I have to feel bad with them (sympathy with the lower self). Instead I’d rather feel good as I watch that seed of growth within them expanding through the contrast they’re experiencing (sympathy with the higher self).
This doesn’t mean being heartless. It means using the heart a little more accurately — to connect with a person’s inner strength instead of their temporary projections of weakness.
Feeling bad that people are suffering isn’t much of a remedy. For some it can be part of a process of healing, but the feeling bad part isn’t a necessary component (unless you believe it is and therefore make it so).
If people insist on suffering by resisting expansions in certain directions, allow them to do so. All suffering is temporary and will eventually end, not because those particular expansions cease but because people will eventually change how they relate to such expansions. This shift frees up trapped energy, thereby making new expansions possible.
The best thing you can do with your energy is to focus it where you’d like to see further expansion. Personally I’m not that interested in increasing the amount of suffering in the world, so I largely ignore it. I’m much more interested in expanding other aspects of life such as creativity, abundance, playfulness, a sense of purpose, fascinating technology, openness, honesty, courage, expressions of affection (hugs, cuddling), lucid dreaming, traveling, and of course hot sex with Canadians.
If you choose to participate in the expansion of suffering, you’re free to do so, and no one will stop you. Lots of people seem to find it interesting enough to dedicate a significant part of their lives to it. Just as there are people who can’t fathom how I could ignore suffering, I find it ludicrous that so many are able to ignore Canada.
While some may convince themselves that it’s a good idea to pay more attention to suffering, I shall continue to focus my attention upon the expansion of yumminess, and I’ll leave the committed sufferers to their own preferences. If you think it’s better to focus on suffering, I suggest you welcome the frustration I cause you as part of the expansion of suffering that you’re inviting. Happy to help out!
If on the other hand you wish to help me co-create the further expansion of yumminess, then let’s pour our collective energy into what we want to see more of in the world, and withdraw our attention from what doesn’t inspire us.
What inspires you? What would you like to increase and expand in this reality?