Sympathize or Empathize?

via Daily Prompt: Sympathize


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 –

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.



Filed under life, mindfulness, psychology, self-development

25 responses to “Sympathize or Empathize?

  1. Disconnection is what seems to be these days. Thanks for the video and explanation between empathy and sympathy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Roda

    Love this post!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. lol now I know great minds think alike … this is exactly the same heading and similar sentiments I wrote out last night when I first saw the prompt! BB is great … Now back to the drawing board for a new slant 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very interesting stuff! 🙂
    More people need to empathize with more than just humans beings… although there are many who don’t even engage in it regarding human beings.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Lyn Cannon

    Very challenging – love the clip I hadn’t seen this one


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Sympathize – aroused

  7. A valid point that these two are different. Experience definitely helps us be more empathetic. Otherwise, it is more difficult to image what the other person is feeling if we’ve never felt the same.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. A very clear definition

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m definitely feeling my husband’s pain of being locked away. Then along this journey I’ve begun feeling the pain of other inmates. Its agony to be so empathetic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely, though I have no idea how you are experiencing that, or what your pain is like, but I do know that you are clearly there for him and others by your empathy – that is powerful.


  10. What a moving thought.Totally agree.Its more important to emphasize than to show lip sympathy

    Liked by 1 person

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