Empathy vs Sympathy

This video says it perfectly. Reblogging from Lydia Seeks Bebe. A good resource to send on to friends and family who struggle to know what to say, how to listen.

Empathy vs Sympathy.

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  1. Kali

     /  December 16, 2013

    Thank you again for such an excellent resource. I sent your What to Say, How to Listen post to my best friend, but we haven’t yet been able to heal–I’m too worn out to work on a relationship right now. I won’t send this one but will hold on to it for an appropriate time to share it.

    It’s amazing that it’s such a simple difference between what’s helpful and what’s not, yet most people’s instincts (from and Eastern religion perspective, egos) drive them to hurt instead of help a person who reaches out.

    • Ah, I so understand being too worn out to go there—from the sound of it, that’s going to be a situation that will take a lot of energy and emotional endurance and so on. It is amazing how backwards people approach helping. I love the part in the video in which she says: “Empathy rarely begins with the words ‘At least.’ ” What is difficult sometimes to explain is that we already know what we have, and are able to appreciate what we have deeply—that’s not the problem, and therefore, not the solution.

      Thinking about you. xo

      • Kali

         /  December 16, 2013

        Thanks–yours is the only blog where this issue–how others make us feel worse with their thoughtless approach–is addressed, and with such compassion, understanding, and real tools to provide those who love us. I can’t thank you enough, though I have only sent your things to this one friend, I like knowing it’s there so I can send it out before defending my feelings YET AGAIN to someone.

        I think our society has real issues with loss and misfortune. People take a logical approach–when this is so much raw emotion. No just accepting sadness, though it is inevitable after a loss. There’s been lots written about our society’s particular aversion to grief, and in fact, two women created a website, here’s an article on it:


        I think that if and when you start a counseling practice, you are going to be invaluable to patients struggling with grief. The infertility counselors around here get it but my therapist–so-so, especially on the infertility aspect.

        • You’re so nice, thank you for the encouragement about the practice (it feels like a faraway dream most of the time) and I can only hope I can put all of this pain and suffering and difficulty to good use by helping others. That would be amazing! I hope I can make it happen. I love that Slate link! It has so many good links inside it. I just bought the Tig Notaro performance and will listen to it today when I go for a walk. Thanks for passing that on!


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