Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it’s like to live inside somebody else’s skin. Frederick Buechner in “Wishful Thinking.”
Compassion is a wonderful thing. It helps us to be kind to others. It is a gift. To be able to understand what someone else is going through on a deep level can be enlightening.
There is also another side to compassion. One can feel the pain so deeply that they are too involved. We have to have the ability to know that although we understand we are not that person. Sometimes people who feel other’s pain very deeply are called “empaths.” Empaths often have trouble removing themselves from the situation. They become so involved that it may not help the other person and can be harmful to them. That is why Buechner calls it a “sometimes fatal capacity.”
This is one of those things for which we have to find balance. Compassion is needed for us to be loving people. But we do have to be able to discriminate between what is enough and what is too much? It can be a tricky thing to do.