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Are You Fighting a Hard Battle? The Importance of Empathy

In a way,Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle we all are fighting a hard battle.

Life comes with many challenges, doesn’t it?

The challenge can be a hard battle with our health…with how well our bodies and structure function…with the relationships we have with ourselves…or for a lot of people, the relationships that they have with others.

We fall into problems when we think that everyone else has it better than we do. They might…in certain areas…at certain times…

Let’s imagine that there are two neighbors. Jill looks like she has it all. She has a great relationship with her husband. They look so happy together. Their home is paid for. Their children have all grown up successfully
Then there is Jane. She is a single mom who has two children; one has special needs and needs a lot of extra attention. Jane has a job that she tolerates; it pays the bills but doesn’t give her any emotional satisfaction.

Jane looks at Jill, envying her, thinking that she wishes she could trade her life for Jill’s. She is envious of how happy her neighbor is and how financially secure. What she doesn’t know is this…Jill has fibromyalgia and lives with chronic pain. And what she doesn’t know is this…Jill envies Jane.

Jill envies the ease with which Jane moves. She envies how she can play with her children….riding bikes with them on the weekend and playing ball in the back yard.

We all have our hard battle to fight. Some of them are obvious. Some of them are not. Some of those battles are obvious to the world. Often, mental illness, stress, depression, anxiety…that kind of hard battle isn’t often visible to other people in our lives, is it?

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. Plato

Developing Empathy in a Hard Battle World

When you have empathy for another, it means that you can imagine what it feels like to be them. When we have that empathy, then we are less likely to stand in judgment over another. We can feel their pain…just enough…

There is an exercise for that, based on NLP techniques that I would like to share with you. And you might ask, why would I need to feel empathy? Because when you can understand…even just a little bit…why the people in your life might act the way they do, it makes your relationships stronger. Understanding is always a good thing.

This NLP Exercise for Empathy

Imagine this….think of that one person that you would like to understand on a deeper level….because that is what empathy is….and imagine that they are standing in front of you…just like that…and take a deep breath…just because you can…that’s right…

And now…imagine stepping into their body….and looking through their eyes…and seeing what they see…and feeling what they feel…and hearing what they hear…see the world in that different way that they do…because we all see the world differently…don’t we?

And now…imagine what a day would be like in their life…there is an old saying….walk a mile in my shoes…what would it be like to walk a mile in their shoes…and when you’ve seen enough…step back out and into your own self…and see the world through your own eyes….and ask yourself…am I seeing things in a different way, now? Take a deep breath….that’s right…

Everyone is fighting a hard battle…and once we understand that…we can be more tolerant and let go of judgements…and then, we can stop being so hard on ourselves…as well…can’t we?

“Drive your own life; you deserve to, don’t you?” Sherie Venner


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I am a Relationship Coach who helps others create happy, healthy, loving relationships…including the relationship they have with themselves…by breaking through those blocks and barriers to success. I use various techniques gathered through training as a Master Practitioner of NLP, timeline, hypnosis and common sense gathered through life experience.

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  • elizabeth maness February 22, 2013, 10:11 pm

    Sherie, This is an amazing post just like all of your posts are! I listened to the interview you and Lisa did and it was outstanding. My limiting beliefs cause me more issues than I had even realized! YOU are a profound relationship coach! Thank you!
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  • Catherine Doucette February 22, 2013, 5:13 pm

    Well said. There was someone in my life who I thought had it all. Then as we got to know each other, I found out how challenging her life was. Everyone has their stuff.
    Catherine Doucette recently posted..Self-Care to Ease Your Workday: Guest PostMy Profile

  • Lisa Frederiksen - BreakingTheCycles.com February 20, 2013, 5:04 pm

    Such a marvelous post, Sherie, and I love the NLP exercises! As you write, we just never know. And even the person who seems to have it all may be fighting a hard battle – we just never know. Keeping this in mind and letting go of judgments also frees us to more in our own moments rather than spending time minding someone else’s. Thanks so mucch!
    Lisa Frederiksen – BreakingTheCycles.com recently posted..Understand Brain Maps | Change a Habit | Change Your LifeMy Profile

  • Carl Mason-Liebenberg February 20, 2013, 8:12 am

    This makes me think of the current Oscar Pistorious murder charge. Oscar is a world know and respected athlete from South Africa, right here in my own backyard. Having no legs, he has achieved incredible feats, recently taking the Olympics by storm. He habecome an international role model, an advocate, a man of great inspiration. Yet, he just shot and killed his girlfirend on Valentines day. Everyone is in an uproarBut I have said from the news break to now, that we have NO idea what was going on in his life. We have not walked in his shoes. I refuse judgement for that reason. There is no doubt that he killed her. The question is intentionally/ premeditated or accidentally.Hopefully the facts are revealed and the critical judgements of flawed humans do not prevail instead. Walk a mile in his shoes…on prostethic legs and then cast a stone! We all mistakes. We all feel pain and we all respond or react. And we all need understanding, grace and love…no one needs judgment.
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  • Meryl Hershey Beck February 19, 2013, 8:12 pm

    I loved that NLP exercise, Sherie. Thanks!
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  • Simona February 19, 2013, 2:26 pm

    Sherie, this is a great reminder that we should be nice to each other. We teach kids to be – yet we forget sometimes to practice it…

  • Moira Hutchison February 19, 2013, 2:01 pm

    Excellent article Sherie and a great exercise to develop greater empathy. It’s so important to realize that we cannot judge what another is feeling by comparing what’s our inner workings to the outer workings of another!
    Moira Hutchison recently posted..Relocation Therapy: When a Change of Scene Is What the Doctor OrderedMy Profile

  • Lorrie February 19, 2013, 5:04 am

    Empathy is a quality surely lacking in this world. Thanks for the instructions on how to cultivate the ability to feel with someone. No one needs pity, but building the bridges of understanding relies on a compassionate regard towards others, and empathy is an essential part of that work.

  • MamaRed February 18, 2013, 10:51 pm

    The “walk” is so essential and as someone who looks healthy as a horse and has had many internal challenges, it is painful to have others not understand hidden challenges. A dear friend has both MS and lupus…to look at her, you wouldn’t know, until you hear her story and understand the challenges she faces.

    Empathy and loving-kindness are the twins of a world worth living in, and leaving to.


  • Lisa Birnesser February 18, 2013, 8:35 pm

    Great post, Sherie! I think this is such a powerful exercise to really understand empathy. You never know what another person is going through. Thanks so much!
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  • Karla Campos February 18, 2013, 6:38 pm

    Hi Sherie, I am empathy city. Everyone is fighting a battle that is the truth, some days we forget because we get caught up in people’s behavior but as you know those who are acting up are the one’s that need the most love.
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  • Aimee February 18, 2013, 4:27 pm

    Great exercise, I did it for my sister, who I know VERY well and it was still interesting. I will try it with a stranger when I’m out.
    Aimee recently posted..How is your problem helping you?My Profile

  • Martha Giffen February 18, 2013, 12:48 pm

    I like “what goes around comes around.” Having more empathy for others will surely come back around ten fold when you need a little sympathy and empathy yourself! Nice one Sherie!
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  • Alexandra McAllister February 18, 2013, 11:52 am

    Thank you for the reminder, Sherie! “Walk a mile in their shoes.” If only more folks could just remember this, if only for a moment. The outside package is not necessarily what the person feels on the inside. Lovely post!
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  • Cathy Taughinbaugh February 18, 2013, 9:19 am

    I love your post and your exercise. We do need to get out of ourselves to truly appreciate another and what they are feeling. This line spoke to me – “When we have that empathy, then we are less likely to stand in judgment over another. We can feel their pain…just enough…”

    That is why it does help to find people that can be empathetic when we are in pain and to reach out to others and just be there for them. Thanks for a great post, Sherie!
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  • Rob Hodgins February 18, 2013, 9:07 am

    “Walk a mile in their shoes.”
    This should be a second Golden Rule to go alongside “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

    It’s a pity that people don’t take the time to do the walk.