How do sympathy and empathy differ, and which one helps someone feel truly supported in their time of need?
The thought came into my head this morning as I was contemplating the support I have received, especially in the last year. The comfort I have received in some instances was just what I needed in my time of need.
The difference between Sympathy and Empathy:
Sympathy vs empathy: what’s the difference?
The term sympathy is largely used to convey commiseration, pity, or feelings of sorrow for someone else who is experiencing misfortune. You feel bad for them … but you don’t know what it is like to be in their shoes.
The term empathy is most often used to refer to the capacity or ability to imagine oneself in the situation of another, experiencing the emotions, ideas, or opinions of that person.
Expressing Sympathy vs Empathy
Some people mean well, but they don’t always give me what I need in that moment. They are expressing sympathy at my situation usually by giving me advice: “Why don’t you look for another job?” They express pity for me: “Oh you poor thing”.
I don’t want to be pitied as I feel sorry for myself enough! But at the same time I realise my situation is unique and it would be unusual to meet anyone who has gone through what I have.
I feel like the people who really make the difference don’t try and give me advice. They listen and then when they do say something, they are empathising with me. “It must be so frustrating to go through that. I would find it hard too”.
People who empathise can put themselves in your shoes and imagine what it would be like to go through the same situation. They don’t try to fix things, or offer advice. They let you vent and really listen.
Thank You to my Blogging Community For the Support
The theme for Denyse Whelan’s Life This Week Linkup is floral. I want to offer a virtual bouquet of flowers to the blogging community to which I belong. This is because I am so grateful for the support I have received from you all. Being stuck at home can be lonely, but through my blog I have met so many lovely people.
I have used my blog to promote a healthy lifestyle. But also to share my journey as I recover from complications of surgery. Whenever I write about my struggles the comments I receive are so lovely, warm and full of empathy that I often cry. I appreciate the words of comfort that feel like they come from a place of genuine caring.
I feel like I am among friends as I can relate to a lot of you as I read your blogs. It helps being in the same stage of life, or slightly behind. I look forward to reading your blogs and what you’re up to. I am inspired as well. I’m grateful to belong to a community of amazing people.
Empathy offers genuine support
To conclude, there is nothing wrong with offering a sympathetic ear to someone in their time of need. Empathy takes it one step further and helps the person feel truly heard and supported. While I appreciate advice, often I just need someone to listen and acknowledge my feelings. Being part of the blogging community allows me to express myself and feel supported by people who genuinely care.
You may also like to read:
- Staying Positive Despite Setbacks
- Prioritising Self Care
- Tips to Improve Your Well-being When Life Gets You Down
Shared on Natalie The Explorer’s Weekend Coffee Share Linkup