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

686 thoughts on “Sympathy – a Poison to the Body

  1. Have you ever said ‘yes’ when every part of your body is saying ‘no’, but we choose to say ‘yes’ purely out of sympathy? I have done this so many times and straight after I can feel the tension in my body for not honouring what I can feel and for allowing the poison of sympathy to enter. Now, I am a lot more aware of this feeling and I am more able to say ‘no’ by listening to my body.

  2. Anytime I go into sympathy, it feels yuk in my body and I recognise this well as I have gone into sympathy many, many times in my life. A few weeks ago I was appreciating myself for not going into sympathy. I was presented with a situation where I could have easily gone into sympathy, instead, I said a definite ‘No’ to the situation but the person I was dealing with kept on persisting and wanted my answer to be a ‘yes’. It went on for a while and I could feel how easily it was to just say yes because I started to feel sympathy for this person but as I was feeling the poison of sympathy starting to enter my thoughts and my body, I made a clear decision that it was an absolute no as I knew sympathy was at play. I could see how the other person was struggling with my answer but I stayed steady with saying no to this person because I did not want to play into the energy of sympathy. This felt true and supportive, and after the situation ended my body felt light as I was appreciating how I had dealt with it by not giving power to sympathy.

  3. Sympathy does muddy the water for all involved, and like you say it doesn’t mean that letting go of sympathy means letting go of care and understanding but actually we could say by letting go of that we can truly love and honour everyone…

  4. I agree Johanna, we build a connection to love and truth in ourselves and make note of that quality and let it become our way or foundation, and then from there we have something to refer to that shows us what is true and what is not. I’m also examining sympathy and it truly is poisonous, one of the reasons being it enjoins us into the problem and our body then absorbs the energy of the other person’s issue. I’m learning more and more to live from the love and truth within me, which means expressing what needs to be said as a truth to support the person in their evolution. Sympathy is a socially accepted way to be with people but neither party grows from understanding, truth, or love when it’s present. Love and truth empowers but sympathy is disempowering for both.

  5. There also feels like a great deal of pleasing in sympathy. Pleasing is purely for the benefit of self. We can feel good from it and it also means we do not have to face the rath of not being liked or even hated by another. I feel we adopt this way of being in avoidance of jealousy and judgement, two of the biggest forces out there that circulate in most conversations hidden in what we say but felt to the bone of our being. But in truth of course it comes back to the simple truth of being responsible by being who we are. A choice we have in every single moment

  6. True care doesn’t have an ounce of emotion in it, and that includes sympathy. When something’s up in our lives and we have a situation to deal with, what supports us the most is having someone to understand us, reflecting a steadiness back to us so that we remember that whatever situation is playing out is not bigger than who we are, and not someone to jump in the well with us so that we both drown in it.

  7. I hadn’t truly understood how patronising sympathy was till I was on the receiving end of it when I didn’t want to be. I felt it capped me and made me feel like I couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to work my way out of the situation I was in. I know full well the person sympathising with me did not mean to make me feel that way but that is what I received. Since then I just ask if someone needs support and ask what support they are looking for rather than presuming anything.

    1. It’s something I recently did also, ask the person in my life how I could support them, and the answer was “I just need your understanding”. We can assume what’s needed or take an action to help out, but often people just want our loving presence and acceptance whilst they work through whatever is going on.

  8. Sympathy is such a killer and yet we can use it so often as a way to fit in, to be seen to support and all we do is further enmesh both ourselves and the other with it. To offer a truth to another is to simply be ourselves.

    1. I agree Monica, I used to use sympathy as a way to be liked. Now, I can recognise it and have become a lot more aware of this when it starts to play out and I have a choice to then say no to it.

  9. At one of my first Universal Medicine workshops a role play exercise helped me deepen my understanding of the true nature of love.

    In one scenario my partner in the exercise with the support of the Gentle Breath Meditation and the explanation offered by Serge Benhayon established a steadiness of loving presence in her own body. She then connected with me.
    In the other scenario my partner was to reach out and give me love. This one I was familiar with, and quite proud of having dedicated much of my life to ‘helping’ and ‘rescuing’ people.

    Yet – now feeling the impact of the two scenarios one after another, it was clear how the first one was definitely equal, supportive, inspiring and empowering, and in contrast how horrible, patronizing, manipulating and belittling the second one felt! I had never spotted that so powerfully before.

    Sympathy falls in the same camp. It may tick the boxes, yet there is no equality, no inspiration, no empowering. It is definitely a trickster.

    1. There is such a simplicity in just being ourselves and bringing our loving presence to others, when we go into the “doing part”, rescuing, sympathising, taking things on, getting involved, etc, we can lose ourselves and the simplicity of our being and all the power it brings. That’s what I’m learning at the moment, being love or doing love (which is an ideal and false love). And yes, like the exercise you experienced Golnaz there is a very big difference energetically between being true love and going into the doing of emotional love, love feels amazing for both, and the emotional ‘doing’ version of love is absolute poison no matter how much we say it is “good”. It feels terrible to experience. Although we can know the difference it takes time to change the entrenched patterns and live the truth.

  10. I certainly have used sympathy to avoid my responsibility to live the love that I am and only make love about family. With using sympathy it is impossible to observe what in truth is happening and then there is also no understanding which made me back then a very frustrated person. Now I am building my relationship with my body and my qualities and to not go below what I know love to be and offers, all of us, no sympathy needed.

  11. Sympathy is an important topic to visit and revisit. It definitely affects our own wellbeing when we sympathise with another and will affect our own health eventually. If ever I have had conversations with others about sympathy, it’s so ingrained into how we are that we can only imagine that if we are not sympathising we must be being awful to a person, but that’s not true. As you say if we are observing and providing understanding and are not personally making someone feel better by taking on their emotion, or whatever it may be, they then get to feel their own choices and make a much more informed choice in relation to that.

    1. I like your point about sympathy making someone feel better, like a bandaid, instead of letting people feel their choices so they can be more informed about their next choice. Not only is sympathy like an energetic poison, we need to see how it’s played out in the larger cycles of humankind generation after generation and prevented any true and much needed change. In sympathy we enable people to stay where they are, if not regress, instead of supporting them to grow and evolve with understanding and the truth.

  12. Sympathy is like drinking flavoured/sugary water instead of pure water, and just as sugary water is harmful for the body so too is sympathy.

  13. ‘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.’ When we observe and are absolutely honest so no judgement, belief or ideal is able to influence us in what we see and feel, we cannot but understand where we and others are coming from, where we ourselves and they are in their lives and how perfectly this is designed to learn exactly what we need to learn.

  14. I can relate to this not wanting to leave others behind or be alone etc. But when I walk in and with my inner qualities even if I am physically alone I feel so amazing. Walking/being with others who may be bogged down by their ‘stuff’/issues/problems at their pace makes me feel anxious whereas I have believed that I have to be with them at all costs. I am starting to learn that thats a lie.

  15. When we go into Sympathy and don’t take responsibility as to what is there to be understood, we miss out on the learning there is for us, and the pattern will continue until we take responsibility and break the cycle.

  16. ‘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’. This really struck me, how arrogant am I to think I know what someone else needs and it is true we are equipped to deal with any situation we have created and will evolve from dealing with it ourselves.

  17. What I am discovering is that as I heal and clear myself of the ideals and beliefs within my body the sympathy I had for other people is falling away which is amazing as I can be myself and not get caught up in their situation or emotions. This has been a great learning for me to be with other people and not get caught up in the outplay of their choices. Going into sympathy doesn’t help anyone.

  18. I love what you have written here as this is something I am feeling more and more in that true understanding is not laced with any part of ‘what we want or what we want to hear’ making it on any level about ourselves but instead a willingness to know the true truth ‘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.’

  19. That expression you use, holding the fort for others hits the nail on the head and I can feel how that’s what happens when sympathy is at play, and really the truth being that we don’t truly want to feel where another is at and what they have chosen, and I’m noticing that this too is something I’m very familiar with and looking out at the world and seeing the mess we’re all in, sympathy is the last thing we need. For in fact we need to truly see where we’re all at and bring our understanding to bear so we can all begin to live in a way that is more true to who we are. So now I see how my sympathy is a comfort blanket which smothers both me and another and stops all of us from truly seeing our choices and their impacts, and from the knowing that we can choose another way.

    1. We don’t realise the power of our reflection to inspire another from how we live. We are taught that it’s ‘good’ to help, to get involved, and to even place others before ourselves in sacrifice. None of this helps us or another to make changes and begin to live a more loving life. There are so many beliefs and ideals about how to help others, but the truth is we are here to return to love and to living from our soul, and though we may change the outer life unless the quality of energy we live from changes, nothing truly changes. We may not realise the power of reflecting the quality of energy we live from.

  20. Ah yes Johanna that is a good one that sympathy ‘and offers no evolution but keeps the other (and even ourselves) limited and exactly where they are.’ – If we go into sympathy it means we too don’t have to be all of who we are so it suits us to a tee to go there so we have others around us to make us feel ok for the choices we are making.

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