Someone who truly cared: When I think of a time where someone showed true compassion to me and was empathetic to my situation, I think of an old hockey coach I had while growing up. I was about 16 and in my sophomore year of high school. At the time I wasn’t focusing on school, I wasn’t doing my part around the house and overall I just wasn’t being a very good kid. Hockey was really the only thing I cared about and put effort into so it was easy to talk with my coach about how I was feeling and what was going on in school and at home. I told him what was going on and he was very understanding. He explained a similar time in his life when he was younger but instead of just agreeing with me he actually made me feel how he felt and at that time I could tell he had gone through the same thing. He wasn’t over sensitive and he didn’t try to make it all about himself but he had a great way of balancing out talking about my situation and comparing it to his that way I could understand better. Basically my coach just explained to me that everyone who is growing up has moments like these. He explained his experience to me and it really resonated with me. He told me to focus and really put a lot of effort in doing the small things better and it truly helped. He was very empathetic. After a few weeks went by we talked again and I can truly say that my situation was better and that talking to my coach and him showing me empathy really helped.
What is empathy?: To me, empathy is a really simple idea. It is all about sharing feelings and and having the power to understand where the other person is coming from. When I think about empathy I think of a conversation between two people instead of one person venting their feelings and the other person just nodding their head. I think the key thing about empathy is having an experience like the person who is explaining theirs to you, so that you have a real example of what you can relate it to. I think when this happens, the person changes from being sympathetic to empathetic. Boundaries are key in this idea. You never want to go too far when being empathetic because it could potentially make the sitaution worse.
Sympathy? How is it different?: I think that sympathy is simply feeling bad for someone but having nothing to relate to them. It like having pity for someone so that you know they are in a bad place, but all you can do is just nod your head and pretend to know what their talking about. I often see people having sympathy for other people, but they have no past experience like that person so there is no way to feel empathy. I think we use sympathy too much and empathy not enough. We all have similar experiences but when someone needs to talk, we don’t really take the time to find an experience that was similar and use it to be empathetic for someone. I think that sympathy is almost a bad thing because its just feeling bad for someones situation. I hope that soon we can make the switch to being empathetic instead of sympathetic. I think the world would be a little bit better of a place if we could make this one simple change.
This article is about empathy in sports and how it can help young athletes like it did for me. http://www.gospmi.com/power-empathy-sports
This article is about the fundamental differences between empathy and sympathy. http://www.diffen.com/difference/Empathy_vs_Sympathy