Best You Guru™


Sympathy and Empathy

Sympathy is from the Greek words “sym” meaning together and “pathos” which refers to feelings. We use the word sympathy to express a feeling we share with another. When a loved one passes, we feel sympathy with friends of the deceased because we share a common loss. We experience a shared feeling. We have sympathy. Empathy is also related to the Greek word “pathos” but it implies a person can understand the feelings of another person. A person expresses empathy to a person that has lost their dog because they also lost their dog. A person can also express empathy but trying to comprehend the feelings of another without expressing the same experience. A person who has lost their cat may have empathy for someone who has lost their dog. 

Humble understanding

People expressing empathy is an attempt to understand the feeling of the position of another person. To understand a feeling from the viewpoint of another person requires effort and compassion. Empathy is the practice of actively trying to see a situation from someone else’s perspective. Putting yourself in someone else shoes. Empathy can help diverse groups work more productively, solve problems, create meaningful relationships, provide great leadership, and numerous other related aspects. But empathy is hard. It is humbling to admit your view isn’t the only one that matters. It is difficult to comprehend your perception doesn’t always match the lived reality of another. It can be uncomfortable to realize that other people may walk a life path completely different journey from yours. 

Empathy’s decline 

A 2010 University of Michigan study showed that university students today are 40 percent less empathetic than they were 30 years ago. Much of the drop has taken place since 2000. The study’s authors speculate the decline in empathy is related to the prevalence of social media. Whether it is social media, societal values, or some other cause there is something we can all do to increase our understanding. 

Empathy is a personal responsibility too often ignored. When a situation requires empathy, we as good people, should take off our shoes and walk beside someone else for a while. The terrain may feel unfamiliar, challenging, and downright scary. We should do our best to make sure no one walks through this life alone.

Your heart is the most powerful muscle in your body. It is time to use it for the betterment of mankind and to allow yourself a more fruitful life. 

Action step:

1) Travel outside your normal environment. See new places and experience new cultures. Read or watch programs that take you outside your familiar environment if you are unable to accomplish this step.

2) Do something that will humble you. Undertake a challenge outside your skill area or something outside your comfort zone. 

3) Listen with your heart and not your head. 

4) Get to know yourself better. Be honest with yourself if you dare. 

5) Cry  

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