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Thursday, January 8, 2015

When Empathy, Not Sympathy, is Called for


17 Tevet, 5775

Much of the world is struggling to grasp, and to cope with, the enormous meaning of the cold-blooded murders at Paris' Charlie Hebdo magazine office.

No matter your politics or spiritual persuasions, when you or someone else face overwhelming horror, the most compassionate response you can give to affected others is a form of compassion called empathy. No, not sympathy, empathy.

Sympathy has a tendency to sound  condescending in some circumstances. Some errant people feign sympathy to seem better than the people in their vicinity. Others offer sympathy due to a lack of knowing better ways to behave in given circumstances.

Empathy is an identification with and/or appreciation for the unhappy person's sense of misery. This video explains the concept simply.

The same wisdom is true for people facing frightening diagnoses, financial, emotional and other situations aka disasters.

Confused? Practice sympathy and empathy with a role-playing partner until both of you understand the difference.

We've all been there, and plodded along just as you might until you make the emotional connection.

I'm sighing with you.

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Focus on relevant emotions so you can deal with them, and with sad people, sensibly.

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