Psychologists make the distinction between “emotional empathy” and “cognitive empathy” or “social intelligence,” which is to appreciate what’s going on emotionally with another person without any contagion of feelings. Cognitive empathy allows us to understand that someone is suffering and still want to help, but without feeling what they are feeling. This distinction makes all the difference when it comes to serving and still conserving our energy.
Emotional empathy is a disembodied emotion, meaning that your attention is outside of yourself. You project yourself in the other person’s body, you feel what you perceive they feel.
Emotional empathy takes you out of yourself and places you in the other person’s shoes where you are disconnected from your inner world. You are out of your body and in an emotion that doesn’t belong to you. In the process, you contaminate your present moment awareness. In this state,...