After reading the blog post by Maya – “Empathy or plain self-neglect”, and following on from my blog “Be Good to You”, coupled with experiencing a very trying month, I have had cause to examine this thing we call “Empathy”.
What is empathy?
There is sometimes a misunderstanding between sympathy and empathy. According to the Oxford Dictionary definitions, “empathy” is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, while “sympathy” is feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune. Empathy is therefore much deeper as one actually shares the other person’s feelings, not just understand or acknowledge them.
When we are growing up our parents and teachers tell us to have empathy, “put yourself in the other guy’s shoes, look at things from his or her perspective” – valuable advice that can go a long way in assisting us with our people skills. It becomes much easier to understand where someone is coming from if one is able to see things from their perspective. But having real empathy actually requires that we share their feelings, that they become our feelings too.