Getting An Empathy Buddy

I recently got myself an empathy buddy and am finding it tremendously helpful to receive some non-judgmental emotional support, especially when I’m feeling like crap. The idea is to have a buddy who listens to where I’m at without judging me and occasionally reflects back how I’m feeling and what my needs are. I talk to my empathy buddy every few days and find it an invaluable emotional support.

I believe that CFS is a stress-related illness, and empathy is the most powerful antidote I know for stress. Having an empathy buddy also lessens my isolation and gives me a feeling that someone else understands and cares what I’m going through; all of which lessens my stress. With an empathy buddy I also get to reciprocate which means my attention isn’t always just on me and my problems.

The idea of an empathy buddy comes from the Non-Violent Communication (NVC) community, also known as Empathic Communication. NVC is a style of communication developed by Marshall Rosenberg with the aim that everyone can get their needs met by communicating feelings and needs clearly and directly. Showing empathy is also a core skill for relating to other people so it’s also a great thing to learn and practice in its own right.

Most of the people I know with Chronic Fatigue have a history of emotional repression and/or past emotional trauma leading to chronic stress. Having an empathy buddy gives you a safe environment to start exploring these feelings by allowing you permission to feel how you feel without being told that you’re wrong or should be different.

All the CFS support groups that I’ve been to appeared to skirt around the issue of how everyone was really feeling, which I believe is why the groups aren’t particularly helpful; they turn into a mutual misery discussion without addressing and dealing with feelings and needs directly. The most helpful group I attended was an anxiety support group which dealt almost exclusively with feelings and steered away from discussing the illness entirely.

I recently met a girl through this blog who had been suffering for 15 years with CFS and was overwhelmed with anxiety, yet had never revealed to anyone just how frightened she was for fear of judgement. I offered her empathy and watched her relax right in front of me. This is powerful stuff.

If you’re interested in getting an empathy buddy, read this article on How to Work With An Empathy Buddy and leave a comment below or contact one of the other commenters.

Author: Graham

I'm a guy in his late 40's, recovering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome since May 2009. I now offer coaching and support to other people with CFS/ME.

4 thoughts on “Getting An Empathy Buddy”

  1. Loved this piece. I’m offering Empathy Buddy Support to 2 persons who are in Transition. One around relationship, another around health.

  2. great, this is just what i needed right now. Thank you. Just reading your blog helped me to give myself some empathy. I was in an NVC practise and study group for a while, but am unable to still attend because of fatigue issues. Can you find me an empathy buddy in Nelson, NZ that I can meet with face to face.I fit right into that category of having a history of emotional repression. I am just starting to work on that again after a break of a year or more where I tried other things. Boy, it is hard work.It seems that I have an default setting of shoving down my emotions so quickly that I don’t have time to recognise (name them) only “that feels bad- I don’t want to feel that-goodby!” What sort of empathy support are you offering? By sykpe? I assume you are not in nelson?

    1. Hi Brigeeta. Let’s see if anyone else responds here. Sounds like you’ve got the emotional repression thing going on too. I’d be happy to do an empathy exchange with you to help you get more in touch with your buried feelings in the mean time. If you’ve already studied a little NVC, it should be easy to get into. Cheers, Graham

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