Greater Empathy for Hurting People

hugsContinued from here.

Another reason I am grateful for the ongoing and severe childhood abuse I suffered is that my experiences taught me empathy for those who are in severe emotional pain. Miserable people are not fun to be around because they are incredibly self-absorbed. I know because I was one. The natural response to pain is to lick your wounds. I was severely wounded, so my focus was on myself for decades, which wasn’t much fun for the people around me. All I saw was my pain while all they saw was my self-absorption. Most people eventually removed themselves from my life, and this only exacerbated the pain. It reinforced my deep-seated belief that I was fundamentally unlovable and that I needed to hide the “real me” because I was so repulsive.

I understand miserable people in a way that most people don’t because I was once one of them. This gives me compassion for them far beyond what most people are willing or able to tolerate because I see past the self-absorption into the pain. I know what it feels like to live in a prison of pain, and my empathy for those who are still there drives me toward them while others are being driven away.

Another reason many people avoid those who are hurting is that they simply don’t know what to say to them. People seem to think they are responsible for saying the “right” thing, and since they don’t know what that is, they avoid being around those who are hurting the most. Because I have been the hurting person, I know that there are no “magic words” that are going to take the pain away. What hurting people need is for someone to listen, not to talk, and to reassure them that they are loved, which is communicated better by presence than by words. We must resist the urge to try to “fix” people and, instead, gently lead them to God, who is the only one with the power to heal their brokenness.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace holding out her arms and asking, “Hugs?” Courtesy Bitmoji.]


2 thoughts on “Greater Empathy for Hurting People

  1. Trying not to fix people is theone of the most important things I’ve learnt. Thank you for sharing.


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