Empathy, Sympathy; Emotions and Understanding for Others

Empathy, Emotions and Understanding for Other People

When we have empathy, we understand that other people are emotional beings and their emotions are affected by every experience in life.  We also understand that while we may have had similar experiences, we really have no idea exactly how they feel.

Empathy is much different from sympathy.

Empathy is the ability to identify with and understand somebody else’s feelings or difficulties.  Their pain is their own.  Empathy is caring, inquiring and understanding how someone feels.

Sympathy or empathy? You don't need to join me in my pain, just validate my emotions and recognize that I am a fellow human being on the journey of life.

Sympathy is actually defined as “agreement” for their sorrow or pain.  When we say we have sympathy we join in and enter their pain and emotions.

Empathy and understanding does not require joining or blending your emotions, but rather respecting the feelings of other people.  It is more a matter of caring, inquiring and respecting the life situations of others.

Practice empathy for others

You can practice empathy whenever you are with others as you intuitively pick up their verbal and non verbal clues of what they are feeling.

By being in tune with the emotions of others, we are able to see the goodness, beauty and humanness of each individual we come in contact with on a daily basis.

Simply acknowledge that you see and understand their pain, is very validating.  It says to those you encounter that you do not see them as a victim, but rather a strong confident person who will find their own solutions to their specific situations.

Do not judge, just acknowledge emotions

Often when you offer sympathy, you are also offering judgment. The temptation to say “It is God’s will” or “It will get better tomorrow”  infers that you  know exactly how they feel and so therefore you know the best way to deal with it.

When you are an empathetic listener you will want to forgo your own agenda and really listen and understand their emotions and point of view.  People know on a gut level when you really care about how they are feeling.

Self Awareness Quiz

1. Have you ever said to someone “How are you today” but not really care?

2. Do you remember a time when you really wished someone would recognize your emotions and understand what you were feeling?

3. Do you have a better understanding between empathy, sympathy and understanding of other people’s emotions?

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