Forget about sympathy

My doctor probably would scream if he found out I’m typing. But I’ve figured out writing is one of the few things I can do at the moment.

That is right. Three weeks ago I fell on the ice and got a concussion. I have pretty much been confined to my house since. And that is partly why I’m writing. Whilst I’ve been trying to focus on every single progress, not matter how tiny, as well as focusing on what I can do instead of all the things I can’t do, others do the opposite. To be honest, yes it is frightening when you wake up and realize you get dizzy when you turn your head, and yes it scares the heck out of you when you have a pain at the back of your head that feels like if you pushed yourself just a tad, something vital in your brain might break. But the good thing is that I’ve had a lot of time to reflect upon my life. I’ve learnt to be grateful for the tiniest things: being able to cook, walk, talk and doing my own food shopping without getting dizzy.

Having said that, of course there are moments when I just want to break down and cry because I feel sorry for myself. That’s when I call a friend, write, meditate, simply cry and then change my thinking. So when a friend called today, I felt strong and ok. I had just managed to reach my nearest sushi place and ordered take away (Yay, I reached my aim!). My friend asked what I was doing and felt sorry for me. She offered sympathy. Great intention, and I appreciate that she called me and that she cares. It means a lot to me in my current state. But. Yes, there is a but. Afterwards I felt really sorry for myself.

And for the first time I really understood the difference between sympathy and empathy: sympathy removes energy from the person you’re talking to, the latter gives energy. So next time you speak to someone who is ill, don’t feel sorry for them. Just be there, call or visit, and help the person see what they can do, rather than what they cannot.

I can still write.

Author: Elisabeth Kolstad

I am a kundalini yoga teacher and writer in Bergen, Norway.

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