I'm the kind of person who internalizes my feelings. I rarely talk about them. And when I do talk, I vent. I don't expect people to say anything back to me, I just want to ramble but feel like someone is listening.
My friends like to talk about their feelings and they expect me to be able to do or say something to make them feel better. Those situations are always very awkward because I never know what to say. I dread saying the wrong thing, and often do. I just can't share or understand their feelings.
I'm great at all other areas of friendship, but this is an important area and I should be able to handle it. My friends are amazing and deserve much better than that.
Most Helpful Guy
Well, I think the biggest component to empathy is having shared experiences. If you haven't gone through the same thing, there's little your friends can expect from you. Otherwise, you're left to imagine what you'd do in their shoes, and from there you can try and figure out what you'd do to make your life better, or something like that, otherwise I just end up sharing what I've done. Sometimes just telling someone that you're sorry they're experiencing whatever they're going through, the other person will continue talking and you get more info, more things you can use to go on. The majority of counseling is trying to get the other person to figure out what they plan to do and all that, so ask those sorts of questions, let them do the work, they'll work through it and you don't have to worry about making suggestions or anything like that. I'm no expert either, but these are the things I work with. And having compassion for others is a large part of being empathetic. Hope that helped at all.