"I know how you feel, I have been there before.". How many times you have heard a person telling you that? did you read it somewhere? from your loved ones? friends? family? the common answer is yes. But, is this the best way to show someone your empathy? to know the answer to this, we need to know what the term " empathy" stands for.
While this term can be subjective, means different things to different people, but the concept behind it remains unified. According to the general definition of the term; empathy is your ability to identify with another's experience and to communicate that back to the individual. While understanding how others feel is a crucial trait for empathy, it is not the only way to make others' feel helped and supported.
Effective empathy comes with considerate reflection and problem-solving. Instead of responding to your friend's rant with "I understand, I have been there." try asking questions, which could help them rise above whatever is upsetting them. "Why are you feeling this way?" , "what do you think the best way to overcome this?", "what can you do differently?", and so on. These reflective responses will help them think about the situation in a more balanced way, without being too emotional. Not everyone is able to communicate this effectively, and honestly, even professionals stay a lifetime trying to figure out the best way to approach their patients and clients.
While we are not, all, set to be therapists and counselors, it will not harm to know a trick or two of how to be the best support for ourselves, and those around us. Connecting with the person you are communicating with is part of being human. Sharing common experiences strengthen your bonds, but in the end of the day, it will not stabilizes the negative emotions associated with those experiences. Therefore, it is good to know how to empathize in a way that can lift you, and the one having the conversation with you, up.
Human communications remains a fascinating realm. No matter how much we read or study it, we will never be able to reach its ends. We just try our best to understand the jest of it, or what we grasp from its unlimited powers.