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EMPATHY on World Poetry day


Apparently it’s World Poetry Day today. Every day is a poetry day for me, I look at one of my poetry books every day and there’s always something new to notice, even in a poem I have read a hundred times.


The poem that came to mind for me today is by William Blake, here’s the extract I can remember most clearly.


“I was angry with my friend;

I told my wrath,

My wrath did end.

I was angry with my foe

I told it not, my wrath did grow”


From The Poison Tree by William Blake


This has stayed with me for years because I know I sometimes get caught in this trap, holding on to a moment of anger or annoyance so it grows bigger and more intense. The other person – the one who angered me – is probably oblivious to this. They have forgotten all about it and they're fine, they don't know or perhaps don't care how I'm feeling. How could they know if I don’t tell them?


Through having my own counselling when I was in training, I discovered how much better it feels to share these angry feelings. If it’s with someone important to me I try to find a gentle way to let them know how I feel, staying ready to listen to them so we can move on from it, together. It’s not always easy.


If I’m angry with someone less central to my life I may or may not choose to tell them. Either way, by talking it through with my counsellor I often come to a much better understanding of why it bothers me so much. Once I can understand that about myself, I might be able to see why they said or did the infuriating thing. It’s amazing how this has the power to shrink the anger.


It’s the power of empathy.


The empathy a counsellor gives to us.


Having empathy with ourselves and with the people around us.

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