What’s the difference between sympathy, empathy, and compassion?
These three words are commonly used interchangeably. But did you know that there are significant differences between these three terms?
Sympathy, empathy, and compassion are all good human gestures or practices but these three are not equally the same. One of them is the highest form of virtue, and if you‘d like to learn how to possess and practice it, you have to know and understand its real meaning.
Here are the differences between a sympathetic, empathetic, and compassionate person:
When you have sympathy with someone, you talk or engage with him to show that you care and you share the same feeling (e.g., pain, sadness) with that person.
When you have empathy, you actually feel what someone’s heart feels. You are putting yourself into that person’s shoes. You can feel his pain and suffering. Empathy is higher and deeper than sympathy.
When you have compassion, you do not only feel the pain and suffering of another person, but you are also determined to help the person’s suffering. Compassion is the highest virtue among the three.
To cite an example, here are 4 types of friends we will encounter in the lowest and saddest stage of our lives, like when we lose a loved one.
1. A friend with sympathy.
They will talk to you or send you a message to show their care and concern. They will also feel sad about what happened to you. If you encounter a friend like this, he or she is a good friend.
2. A friend with empathy.
They will feel your pain and they will cry with you. What you feel in your heart is what they also feel in their hearts because they have put their shoes on your shoes. If you encounter friends like these, keep them.
3. A friend with compassion.
They will not only be with you, feel your suffering, and cry with you, but they will also do something to help you alleviate your pain. A compassionate friend is a selfless friend – he or she is ready to sacrifice his time, energy and other resources to help you. If you have a friend like this, you are blessed – treasure him or her.
4. A friend with none of the above.
They will ignore your feelings and suffering even if they know what happened to you. They are only concerned about themselves – their own ego and pride. When you meet them, they will be rude to you, they will roll their eyes on you, and they will remind you how they hate you because of the mistake they believe you’ve done in the past. If you encounter friends like these, pray that pride and hatred be removed in their hearts. Pray that their own pain and suffering be healed. Pray that kindness, love, compassion, and understanding be filled in their minds, hearts, and souls.
I hope you have learned the differences between sympathy, empathy, and compassion. If you can hardly practice any of them, start with sympathy. Then, move up with empathy and compassion.
Be a compassionate person and make the world become a better place to live in.
ALSO READ: 20 Ways to Be a Good Friend