How do I listen while a loved one sobs out her suffering, without taking on the pain myself? What’s the key? How do I keep perspective and equilibrium, but not become cold or indifferent?
Is this even a goal I should seek? Isn’t the world changed for the better by the passionate, not the dispassionate? If no-one takes on the pain of the abused and disenfranchised, how can things improve for them?
There are degrees of pain. “First world” versus “third world”, for example. But to the sufferer, it’s all pain.
First responders, therapists, charity workers, families of the maimed, these people (and many others) navigate the path of witnessing up close, even embracing, others’ pain without either “fingers in ears, lalalala can’t hear you” or going under themselves. I applaud them, and want to sit at their feet to learn how it’s done.
I don’t know the answers, but I’m getting practice anyway. I want to be happy. I choose to be happy. But I also want to be there for my unhappy friends, to be an ear, to be a rock, to help without hurting myself.
If you know what I’m talking about, tell me how you do it. Please.