The Well of Unending Sadness – the dark-side of Empathy.

Maybe you know what it’s like to drink from the well of un-ending sadness.

If you’re a deep thinker, or indeed if you feel deeply, then you’ve probably experienced this sensation of desperate melancholy… of sadness for no apparent reason. It’s a feeling that mercilessly defies logic.

It can strike at anytime and can render you powerless.

It can feel inconsolable, like there’s no way out. It’s a growing phenomena in the modern world, where people of all ages and walks of life are struck down. We try to solve it with therapy and medication; with distraction and escapism. Often to no avail.

These attempts at remedy are like trying to silence the wind, and can lead to even more frustration. That’s because ‘the sadness’ is a symptom… There’s something deeper going on. A deeper cause.

I met a lady whose highly intelligent grandson was experiencing this sadness. After only a few minutes chatting she remarked, “You’re clever too aren’t you… I bet you feel ‘the sadness’ too, don’t you?” Her perceptions were correct. There’s a correlation with intelligence and depression. As if the combination of intellectual, self-reflection leads to a grand feeling of despair at the state of the world. It’s the curse of high EQ… The price of Connectedness. The dark-side of Empathy.

Yet a change in perspective can transform this well of sadness into a resource. A simple shift in the way you see the world can open up new possibilities. As deep as that sadness goes… Your courage to embrace your feelings… Will transform that sadness into a strength.

bodhisattva-958683_640In the tradition of the Bodhisattva, the individual turns their back on personal enlightenment because they know that while others are suffering, there can be no true enlightenment. These divine beings recognise that ‘self’ and ‘other’ are indistinguishable. Through compassion, they embrace those feelings of universal suffering and transmute the pain into kindness… kindness towards yourself and kindness towards others.

If you have this ability to feel so deeply that it’s as if you’re carrying the suffering of the world on your shoulders… Then I say to you… you are one step away from the sacred… One step away from enlightenment. You are the birthing of compassion.

This step is simple yet challenging. It’s the knowledge of what is yours and what belongs to other people. It’s the ‘oxygen mask’ approach: Tend to yourself so you can tend to others. Nourish yourself and make yourself strong so you can share your strength.


When you are strong and grounded, you realise that any feelings arriving in your awareness can move out of your awareness, just the same. Thoughts and feelings come… and then you have a choice…  You can grab hold of them, wrestle with them, try to conquer them; You can attempt to avoid them, hide from or ignore them. Either way, your attention is still captured by those pesky ideas and emotions.

Get Grounded! And you will feel those unwanted sensations leave your perception, like water flowing and evaporating.

Stay Grounded! And rather than grasp or escape, you will be able to let go.

Be Grounded! And your perception will shift from weakness to Strength; from suffering to Compassion; from powerlessness to Empowerment.


Grounding is simple. You can learn it in just a few minutes here.

5 thoughts on “The Well of Unending Sadness – the dark-side of Empathy.

  1. lelameinke says:

    i love this sentence: Through compassion, they embrace those feelings of universal suffering and transmute the pain into kindness… kindness towards yourself and kindness towards others.

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