Helping by feeling

Imagine how you will feel if someone you care about is dealing with something painful. You feel like helping them deal with the situation. I also feel like that a lot of times. In my attempt to console them, I would say, “It is fine. It could have been much worse.” and other such insensitive statements. After observing my own experiences and reading the thoughts of others, I have come to understand that there is a kinder way of consoling others.

Feeling what they are feeling. Putting myself in their shoes. Getting rid of pre-conceived notions. Empathy. That is the way to console.

When I tried it, I could feel what they were feeling and could understand. The best thing was that I wasn’t getting pulled into the drama as I was an outsider. I was able to look at it in a logical point of view and at the same time, understand what they were feeling.

It is very important to not encourage them in feeling sorry for themselves or feel victimized by telling them “It’s ok. You couldn’t help it. I don’t know what the gods were thinking. Putting an innocent person like you through this”. This can be very damaging for self-esteem. Instead, I realized that I should just be with them and not encourage anything. Later, when my friend was in a more positive, open frame of mind, I spoke to them more logically. Sometimes, I thought I was giving them a positive outlook on things and kept harping on how things could have been worse like “Things could have been much worse. At least no one is dead”. Even though my intentions were good, I failed to realize that they were affected a lot by their problems and cannot understand it. I should listen with an open mind and really understand their view of the problem without jumping to conclusions and saying that they are over-reacting (“You’re not thinking straight, darling. You are making a mountain out of a mole hill “). One simple method I use to empathize is thinking of a similar problem I faced in the past and identify with how they must be feeling currently.

Empathy is the best solution to consoling my friends and they feel that they can trust me more as they feel that I can understand them. It’s nice to feel that I can be of some help when my near and dear ones are in distress just by showing a little empathy.


  1. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said October 26, 2014, 5:35 pm:

    Insightful post Gopika. At such a young age you have figured out something crucially important for personal growth and effectiveness – Empathy. Way to go.

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    Subra (subscribed) said October 26, 2014, 6:55 pm:

    Very well said gopika. Empathy is the way to go – and am sure your attitude will have your loved ones thanking you from their heart…

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    Thanks a lot, Sukumar uncle. I felt like writing after watching this video-

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    EQ is as equal or higher than IQ. Well written Gopika. People with high EQ have been very successful and happy in life.

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    Thanks a lot for the encouragement, Subra. When I know that people are reading, it gives me real inspiration to write.

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    Dear Gopika,
    Very nice writing. It was an eye opener for me too. I am so happy that you have realized this at such a young age. I will show Madhav this post. And I must congratulate your mom and dad for bringing you up to realize such important values at such a young age. Kudos to you and them!! Take care
    Vrinda aunty

    (Still remember seeing you as a small kid, probably you were 5 years old then, wearing a pattu pavada. I am proud of you)

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    Shiva (subscribed) said October 27, 2014, 7:19 am:

    Hi Gopika,

    Impressive debut, well written and great thinking.

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    Good one Gopika…very sincere and thoughtful. Meanwhile out of my experience, if i may share, your presence itself is of utmost importance. This maybe either physically or just your voice over the phone. The presence of someone makes things easier cuz loneliness in itself is a biggest enemy. Try telling your friend ” I dont know what to say…but just wanted to be with you” and see the impact it makes to reduce the pain.

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    Thanks a lot, Ganesh

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    Thank you, Vrinda aunty.My parents really give me a lot of freedom and my own space. Thanks for the encouragement.

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    Thank you, Shiva uncle. Feeling very happy and enthusiastic.

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    Thank you, Preet uncle. True, presence is very important. It’s nice to feel that someone just wanted to be with you.

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    Gopika, that’s a great video. Try this one – one of the best I have seen on Empathy.

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    That video has some issue loading. However got another link

    It was very good. Thank you.

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    Himaghnya Bhattacharya (subscribed) said October 28, 2014, 6:47 pm:

    Amazingly simple, yet powerful There’s a lesson in there for me as well…

    Way to go!

    Will wait for your next post.

    All the very best!

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    Viswajit Iyer said October 29, 2014, 9:58 am:

    This is not easy for many of us, even for people that have seen good number of summers & winters 🙂 You are spot on that empathy is best way to offer support, not sympathy. Just acknowledging that the person has been/is in a difficult situation itself is helpful to many people.

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    Himaghnya uncle, thanks so much. Will definitely start the next post

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    Thank you, Viswajith uncle. 🙂

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    That’s very well said, my dear gal. Amazing that at such have an early age, you’ve learnt to look within. For all problems begin from within & solutions too emerge from within us. Great going .

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    Thanks a lot, Aparna aunty. 🙂

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    Utkarsha (subscribed) said October 30, 2014, 7:50 pm:


    Vey well articulated about the great gift given to human beings of Empathy. Simply prodigious!!!

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    Gopika –

    One of the best blog I have read in the recent past. Way to go! Look forward to more !

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    Very impressive bit of writing, Gopika! And although we will tend to empathize, remember our emotions also plays a part and if we have to be strong then we should also understand to draw the line! I see Punitha athachis Gene around this writing actually! I cannot forget how she helped me through my +2 exams!

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    Thank you, Utkarsha aunty.

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    Thanks Raja mama 🙂

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