I will remember the day I received true empathy for the rest of my days. It was my third session with my counsellor and towards the end of our hour together she spoke the magic words, 'you've been through x, y and z (not actually x,y and z but you get what i mean) it's no wonder you feel anxious.
Boom! It hit me like lightening through my chest and up to my thoughts. Hang on, you mean it's not me having unreasonable feelings, being too sensitive, just need to think positive? My feelings are valid and there are other people who would feel like this if they experienced my life? I drove home in somewhat of an enlightened haze. Something deep inside shifted and the way i thought about life changed forever.
I don't think I've met one client who hasn't believed that they were being stupid, weak or inferior in some way for the low feelings that sweep over them. I feel extremely privileged that I can now offer that empathy which was so powerful for me to my clients.
It isn't just a case of saying, 'well you've been through this and that of course you're going to feel anxious/depressed'. True empathy is much more. It's about connecting with another human being, understanding them, truly imagining what it must have been like to live their lives. Then you can come from a deep, non judgemental place in order to facilitate healing.
After a few sessions client's often report things like, 'i don't know what happened but i feel different' and 'i was able to say how i felt to such and such, i felt proud of myself'. Being genuinely heard helps calm down the nervous system and reduces anxiety feelings in order for you to start feeling more positive about life.
You can learn more about the biological reactions to stress in my free ebook. Available to download from the homepage.