“How to Stay Empathic without Suffering So Much” (Greater Good Science Center)

Someone in our local support group shared this with me as it resonates with her as a caregiver.  Though the article gives examples with students or children, the group member says the article has helped her have a better balance in feeling empathy towards her husband with a neurological disorder.

The article suggests four strategies for staying empathic without suffering or feeling distress:

1. Check in with yourself
2. Question your thoughts and feelings
3. Practice verbalizing your feelings
4. Nurture a concerned, compassionate response

Here are two good excerpts:

* “There is a reason why we all keep using the oxygen mask analogy. It’s critical—not selfish—to check your own mask first (i.e., ‘Do I have what I need to move forward? Have I taken a deep breath and sensed my feet on the ground? Am I calm, composed, and able to respond thoughtfully?’). Otherwise, you may perpetuate feelings of distress and be unable to reach out with genuine empathic concern in the first place.”

* “By regularly questioning your thinking in a structured way, you can begin to shift your perspective, tone down distressful feelings, and ultimately respond more thoughtfully to” others.

Here’s a link to the article:


How to Stay Empathic without Suffering So Much
Four steps to a healthier, more helpful, and more sustainable form of empathy.
By Amy L. Eva
May 4, 2017
Greater Good Science Center

If you view the article online, you’ll find a link to an “empathy quiz” and other resources.