When you see me with an open heart you see reasons for why I am where I am. When your heart is closed you see only excuses. ~ AZ
It is a huge gift to give someone empathy. Empathy for their situation. Empathy for the real details of their story. Empathy for human imperfection. Empathy with sadness and overwhelm. Empathy with a life stacked with many challenges. Empathy for wanting life to be easier without so much effort!
This may seem like I am saying that empathy is THE answer. But there are edges to empathizing with another (or yourself.) Giving only empathy can reinforce a helpless, victim self-narrative that keeps a person stuck. Inviting people to be accountable to the actions and choices they've made that are part of their story is also important. Not empathy OR accountability but empathy AND accountability. Accountability to honesty. Accountability to their strengths; not just their weaknesses. Accountability to their values. Accountability to what they bring to their interactions. Accountability to their physical and mental health and their goals.
When you engage with both genuine empathy AND an invitation to accountability - following up with the question 'What now?' (or 'What happens next?') can open a world of possibilities!