Sympathy – a Poison to the Body

In the last 8 months or so I have been looking at how sympathy has played out in my life, especially in my relationships with others.

But sympathy is a good thing, I hear you say with a puzzled look???

The more I unpack, feel, observe and be honest about how sympathy works its way in and through interactions, connections and relationships, the more I am understanding that sympathy is quite the opposite to what we have been sold and have believed it to be in life, and quite truthfully, how absolutely harming and poisoning it is for our bodies and for us to be in.

I feel people are deeply caring by nature but it seems we have somehow erroneously, perhaps irresponsibly, replaced understanding with sympathy.

For me, after the last few months, I see that true understanding comes from a place of observation, of care, of listening and most importantly, a space that offers true support and even evolution to take place. Understanding is confirming, yet sometimes it may not be what we always want to hear or feel. However, it usually comes with truth and love.

For myself, I see that I have used sympathy to avoid feeling what is happening around me with people I care for as a way of cushioning, or to make things better for the other. I now realise that the harm in this is that it doesn’t allow each person to feel what is going on for them, where they are at in-truth, to take responsibility for their part, or to work through and make change. Sympathy is also a kind of load from the other that we take on into our body, which is very difficult to heal and clear, and offers no evolution but keeps the other (and even ourselves) limited and exactly where they are.

As I have allowed myself to feel how I have used being in sympathy with family, with work relationships, with friends and so on, I have felt how it alters the quality of my being and the queasy residue that it has left in my body. I have also absolutely felt that there is nothing about sympathy that has served me or the other in-truth. When I have gone into sympathy with others, a part of me has taken on their issue or situation as a trying to ‘fix it’ for them or ‘save them’ from feeling the effects. Even though in the past I have thought I was helping by doing this, taking on another’s stuff is something that makes my body feel physically queasy (like sea or morning sickness), much like ingesting a food that I know is not good for me.

When we absorb another’s situation, circumstances or issues, we are taking that poison into our body, effectively ingesting it. I have learned that the person who creates or is part of the situation or issue is the person who actually knows how to undo it; even though outsiders may want to help, only the people involved can deal with it. Me being all of me and reading situations as they are and responding is the best and only true support I can give.

So with the awareness of these two words, sympathy and understanding. I am able to look at, in some detail, how and most importantly, why I have chosen sympathy over understanding. This is a big one for me and one that exposes how I have used and chosen sympathy in the past to not express, to hold back, to shut down, to not shine, to not stick out, to enjoin, to fit in, to not feel lonely, to not feel I am missing out and to not be shunned, rejected or disliked.

The reality is that it has all been at the expense of the one thing I (and we all) want most – Love. It’s been a way for me to avoid taking responsibility to reflect the love that I am, the pure heaven and divinity and all I am actually here and designed to reflect in just the uniqueness that only I can bring. It is with all these divinely designed, unique flavours, everyone playing their very needed role, that makes us all a one unified complete whole. I like to think of it as a spherical jigsaw puzzle – even one piece missing matters greatly.

Letting go of sympathy, has at times felt like ‘walking through mud’, as it has been on some levels quite ingrained and a repeated pattern and behaviour with people I have known for a long time.

What has supported me greatly in this process is developing a true quality that I can tangibly feel in my body and then marking how things, relationships, patterns and behaviours either do or don’t belong with that quality. I have connected to, developed and deepened, this known quality, my natural and true way of being through amazing supports such as allowing myself to surrender during Esoteric Yoga, Sacred Movement, the Gentle Breath Meditation and bringing presence to my daily activities such as walking and driving.

Today I define the truth of life from the known quality of love and truth that I have surrendered to, connected with and move with in my body. The more I honour myself in this way, the more I further appreciate the value of bringing understanding to relationships, and can see that there is no need to burdensomely hold the fort for others resulting in less and less place for the poison of sympathy to enter.

By Johanna Smith, Bachelor of Education (Major Special Needs, Minor Psychology), Graduate Certificate of Early Childhood, Studying Diploma of Counseling, Esoteric Complementary Health Practitioner, Woman, Teacher, Mother, Wife and Friend

Related Reading:
Being Nice
Nursing, me and Serge Benhayon
True Friendship: Serge the Friend

627 thoughts on “Sympathy – a Poison to the Body

    1. A truly pertinent observation, John. To me, it feels sickly – an emotion that disguises itself as care yet underneath laces another with being lesser, whilst at the same time does nothing to support another to arise out of whatever they are in but simply confirms them in it. A no win, no win situation.

  1. I used to believe I was helping people so much by always sympathising with their problems, pains, illnesses, and other issues in a way that sought to find answers and solutions to these things. But now I realise just how much I took on these issues and carried them on my shoulders and in my body as if I was living all my issues AND all of theirs at once! Quite exhausting and a true dis-service to them as it did not allow them the space to come to their own answers and understanding of how to get out of those situations by taking responsibility for getting into them, but instead further pumped up the ‘victim’ mentality that kept them blaming everything and everyone else for their problems.

  2. The futility of most charity work is lovingly exposed here. When it is the one with the issue that is able to extricate themselves from it throwing money at a cause will only magnify the Ill that has been chosen.

  3. It’s great to take the lid of something so dear to our society … sympathy!. And all one has to do is to feel the energetic reality of sympathy and one can feel how toxic it actually is.

  4. It is interesting to approach sympathy in this way, to see it as a buffer for feeling, when many would argue that it is the doorway to feeling. However, I agree with you in this piece of writing as sympathy has always left a toxic feeling in my body, a sense that I have absorbed another person’s dilemma or struggle and made it my own, which ultimately can be regarded as a movement from me towards dulling my own senses.

  5. I am now kind of on the look out for those who look for sympathy as I was always one to lend a sympathetic ear causing harm to myself and not helping the person whatsoever. It’s good to expose sympathy for what it really is.

  6. It is a sneaky one sympathy and when you get to feel it in your body you realise how damaging it is both from your experience going into it but how it keeps the other person in the emotion of a hurt. This really doesn’t support either.

  7. I was drowning in sympathy, I was loosing myself in the drama and not taking my responsibility for my part in the dynamic. We think it is caring, but in truth it is not, thinking someone less than us because we feel sorry for them is not caring in truth.

    1. Spot on Samantha, and it is deeply loving to hold the other person in absolute love without an ounce of sympathy when they are going through a difficult time.

  8. As I observed another sympathise I saw the other uncomfortable. I felt a touch of guilt ‘should I being feeling and offering that too?’ ‘No’ I said to myself ‘that is not love I know it to be today’. I hold myself and keep observing with no imposition but the connection to myself and to others.

  9. The person who has created the situation is actually the one who has the power to undo it… very powerful words and they really ring true for me and I can feel how many times I have tried to solve problems for others or give them the answers only to find that they look bemused or confused or just ignore it!…and the burden I can feel on me when I do this. Definitely one to watch out for more! All we can do is support people to come to their own realisations and answers in time when they are ready to do so.

  10. Sympathy comes hand in hand with being ‘nice’ where it is void of love and truth. It also comes with a pandering energy too and hence why it is so draining to be in sympathy.

  11. I think ‘Sympathy’ has a cousin called ‘Nice’ and they have spent far too much time informing me with their gossip. The fact is that they simply allow a status quo to continue when it really needs to be looked at deeply, encouraged to change so that ‘Truth’ can get a seat at the table.

  12. It’s so timely that I’m reading this just now as I see and feel how much sympathy has played out in my life. And getting an understanding that the best support we can bring someone is understanding and observation and that sympathy robs us of that is crucial … people do care, it’s natural for us, but we’ve mis-placed that care by going into where another is at, rather than allowing them the grace to feel and see their choices and the outcomes of those choices – a great reminder that every one of us is offered exactly what we need and that each of us will get there … right now I can feel how sympathy is very dis-empowering and deeply arrogant as it sees another as less and oneself as knowing more, ouch, and great to be seeing this.

  13. The way that an emotion can impact life is definitely something worth exploring with astute observation. Because, then we get to see how much control we give away to it.

  14. A beautiful expose of what poison truly is and what is does in our bodies. After reading this blog we are well able to consider and observe where we hold back ourselves and go into sympathy and where we can truly start understanding and allowing instead.

  15. The collusion of sympathy with love has left us bereft of understanding what true care for one another and ourselves is. Sympathy offers no way forward, no way to evolve, but is simply a joining of staying in the difficulty that is present.

  16. In the medical /health professions, it is almost an expectation that you will be sympathetic. When you are training this is covered now days with words like empathy and compassion, but the quality of energy underneath is still the same. It feels like, ‘you poor thing’ or ‘how unlucky you are’ or ‘you don’t deserve this’, suggesting that illness and disease are a random punishment that you have little power to change. Instead I see that getting sick, although uncomfortable, can be extremely healing of behaviours and emotions that are like poison in the body. In speaking with a friend last night, she realised that without getting cancer, she would never have stopped or re-evaluated the way she was living.

    1. We see things in such black and white ways. I also know of a case of someone who was very materialistic and unpleasant to others, after cancer he completely changed and become caring with different values, and he was very appreciative of the changes the experience of cancer made in his life. I’m not suggesting everyone’s case is like this but we may need to consider that there is a deeper healing on offer with illness, an opportunity to return to a more true way of being.

  17. This is a great blog to read and also the comments that go with it a great discussion to be having. What caught my attention was how being in sympathy is casting a judgement on another. I wasn’t too sure about this. For me when we are in sympathy with someone we have enjoined them in their emotional turmoil, rather than standing on firm ground and throwing them a life raft.

  18. From a young age, we are encouraged to go into sympathy and if we managed to get to an adult without showing plenty of sympathy people think there is something wrong with us.

  19. Sympathy is quite insidious, the more I become aware of it the more I realise how much I have been sympathetic even in the most subtle ways. The tricky thing with emotions like sympathy is they are very common (i,e, considered normal) and seen as ‘good’, but when experienced by the body sympathy does feel awful, there is just no substitute for love.

  20. ‘I feel people are deeply caring by nature but it seems we have somehow erroneously, perhaps irresponsibly, replaced understanding with sympathy.’ Great point. Understanding the person and the situation is key. No need for sympathy, the person learns nothing from this. When we understand we can offer true support.

  21. “I feel people are deeply caring by nature but it seems we have somehow erroneously, perhaps irresponsibly, replaced understanding with sympathy.” I agree Johanna. Sympathy comes heavily loaded with emotion, and often an expectaion at the expense of another, whereas true understanding asks for nothing in return and allows the space for someone to process what they need to at their own pace, feeling fully supported.

  22. There is something about sympathy that does not quite honour the other person as a wise, powerful being responsible for their own life, and does not recognise the fact that whatever is reflected to anyone in life is their own personal life lesson to engage with, heal or learn from and evolve. The less willing I am to see all of this about myself and in my own life, the more likely I am to do the same in relationship to others.

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