Home Mental Health Sympathy VS Empathy – Are they Two Sides of the Same Coin? 

Sympathy VS Empathy – Are they Two Sides of the Same Coin? 

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Empathy and sympathy are often mistaken for one single, unified emotion when they are really two sides of the same coin. Because no matter how interchangeable sympathy and empathy are in one another, only one of them allows you to manifest a deeper connection. 

Imagine it like this, 

Empathy is walking a mile in somebody else’s shoes, and feeling Sympathy is being sorry that their feet hurt…

Nothing can summarize the difference between sympathy and empathy more than this statement. But if you are still curious let us dig deeper into what are the core differences between sympathy and empathy. 

What is Empathy?

Empathy is mastering the art of understanding to the limit that you are able to connect with the feelings of the other person on an emotional level. From actively listening to what they are saying to be as unbiased as you can about someone’s situation, empathy urges you to acknowledge their feelings. 

Therefore if you are an empath then you are able to share the burden of someone’s past or present with them on an emotional level. When you are an empath it does not matter whether you have any experience of what they are going through, it simply means that you are able to connect regardless of the lack of experience or history. 

An empath is able to listen to what’s not being said and see what’s not even there. They are the best at decoding non-verbal cues. They are able to get a look at the whole picture and that’s how they are able to connect the missing pieces of the puzzle without even bearing the burden of the unsaid. 

Empathy not only improves you as a person but also provides the following benefits:

  • Empathy helps you with acceptance
  • Empathy thrives you to be more persuasive
  • Empathy boosts your self-esteem 
  • Empathy aids you to build meaningful connections 
  • Empathy assists you so that you can help others

What is Sympathy? 

Sympathy is comprehending what someone else is going through by offering helping hands but maintaining a distance. According to the doctors of MaxHealth Hospital, Sympathy is an emotion that is more cognitive in how it urges you to function. 

Sympathy allows you to act rationally and logically even in those situations which can be best described as overwhelming. Sometimes sympathy is the best choice when you have to walk out of the most difficult situations and the situation simply demands you to be just you. It does not mean that you do not care about the trouble or grief of someone else. It just means that you are maintaining a distance by creating a separation that keeps your mental health intact. 

While sympathy urges you to be transactional and rational, it does bear some of the given below perks:

  • Sympathy enables you to give logical advice
  • Sympathy allows you to have an opinion
  • Sympathy encourages you to understand
  • Sympathy assists you to help the other one while keeping your emotions aside

Empathy vs Sympathy – Connection Vs Separation

Learning what is the difference between empathy and sympathy is necessary because it gives you a much-needed insight on how you should react or act in some moments. Listed below are some of the main differences that can actually cure your confusion in a better manner. 

Relation With the Other Person

The relationship that you are sharing with the person can be a direct contributor that whether you are going to exude empathy or sympathy. So when you are choosing empathy you are willing to offer support and space to the other person so that they can align their feelings and emotions. Empathy will urge you to assess the situation so you end up understanding everything even the negative aspects of a situation. 

On the other hand, if you end up choosing sympathy then you are willing to provide a solution to their situation whether they want a solution or not. You try to make assumptions rather than comprehend the situation. The sole purpose of the sympathetic purpose becomes to ease the pain, without catering to the long-term approach.

Sympathy is more of an ego-feeding emotion, something along the line of what you need to do while empathy drives you to do what is the absolute best. Whether it means you have to listen or leave the other person in the current state. 

The Right Time

Another key difference between empathy and sympathy is that you can choose to exhibit empathy any day any time. Empathy heals people even when you are not trying. The simple act of listening to someone when you can pass judgment takes a lot of courage but is often the right thing to do, regardless of the consequences. 

On the other hand, sympathy allows you to protect your emotional attachments and sanity. Because if you become too involved in someone’s grief or suffering it can take a toll on your judgment often blurring the line between right and wrong. 

Sympathy should be exhibited only during the toughest of times while you can trust the healing capacity of empathy at any point in time. 

One is Easy the Other is NOT!

Choosing to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and giving them room and space urges you to let down your armour first. And not everyone is ready for this type of vulnerability. That is what empathy demands from you. It asks you to listen without judgment, listen with intent, listen without holding a grudge and just keep on listening. 

While sympathy is often an easy gesture to show. Sending flowers to someone who is sick, wishing someone to recover from an injury, showing up to the funeral of a colleague’s father with flowers, all of these are acts of sympathy. It does not feed on vulnerability and only needs compassion to thrive. 

Empathy is not easy because it fosters a deep meaningful connection while sympathy offers clarification separating the what if’s from what are’s. 

Sympathy VS Empathy – You Get to Decide!

Understanding people is important, especially when they are struggling to keep up with all the things that life keeps throwing at them. But ensuring your own mental sanity while doing that is also important. Be sure to be there for your friends, family and loved ones and try not to lose yourself in the process of making life a little more bearable for them. 

If your loved ones need more guidance then you can connect to the best psychologists via healthwire. They will prove to be the best support system by lending a listening ear and curating a treatment program accordingly. 

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