Brene Brown has been a sensation because of her research into shame and guilt, vulnernability, and empathy, and the new outcomes including herown self reflection. Her TED talk (all her talks are, in my view) is a wonderful learning experience –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psN1DORYYV0&t=17s
Nothing wrong with sympathy but Einfuhlung, or feeling into, known as empathy, is much stronger and far more supportive. Sympathy is – I care about your suffering. Empathy is – I feel your suffering.
Empathy therefore relies on friendship, close, intimate friendship, or community. Empathy cannot work where you are detached, or distant from a person, it is the ability to feel for the other person as if you are them, or you are in their very situation. Sympathy does work in abstraction, you can feel sad for someone but yet not share their perspective. In his novel “The Forgotten Village” John Steinbeck says: “It means very little to know that a million Chinese are starving unless you know one Chinese who is starving.” (from: “The Grapes of Wrath, a Literary Journal, Gerald Haslam, p.2) Steinbeck makes a great point.
I don’t mind a bit of sympathy, but in the end, I really value the depth of empathy. so, if you’re coming my way, empathise.