Do you get pulled into other people's feelings?

Understanding the differences between sympathy, compassion and empathy can have a positive affect on how we feel around other people and how we relate to others.

Reaction vs. action

Each of the responses we've discussed begins with a reaction. You sense a person suffering, and you feel an emotional response. It's what happens from there that matters.

  • When your experience begins and ends with feeling sad for someone, that's sympathy. Your emotion comes and goes without any further action.

  • Empathy can be somewhat different. You react and then step into their suffering. You may keep this experience to yourself, or you might share it with the other person. Often, sharing your empathy can feel supportive and helpful.

  • Compassion is how the real impact occurs. You can move through your emotions and start thinking strategically. It doesn't matter if your help is small or significant. The critical difference is that you do more than just share their emotions. You make an effort to change that person's experience and relieve or prevent suffering.

referenced from:

My latest short video might help you to see some of the differences.

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