Being empathetic is good, but it can hurt your health

Being empathetic is good, but it can hurt your health

Washington Post | September 25, 2017

By Jennifer Breheny Wallace

Your husband was just passed over for a promotion, and he’s depressed. Your friend’s breast cancer has returned. As a supportive spouse and friend, you feel their pain. Growing research suggests there’s a cost to all that caring.

Empathy — the ability to tune into and share another person’s emotion from their perspective — plays a crucial role in bringing people together. It’s the joy you feel at a friend’s wedding or the pain you experience when you see someone suffering.

It’s an essential ingredient for building intimacy in relationships, says Robin Stern, associate director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. “When someone feels seen and heard by you,” she says, “they begin to trust you.”

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