Preferred Perception

to create reality is life's purpose – lessons from Nowheim

Empathy Sympathy Compassion


I need to get this straight for my own understanding.

I think ….

  • Empathy means I realize another person’s feelings and am able to step into their shoes without actually experiencing the same feelings.
  • Sympathy means I realize another person’s feelings and share them. If they are positive, I rejoice with them. If they are negative, I commiserate with them.
  • Compassion means I realize another person’s feelings, honor but do not adopt them. Instead, I ask myself  how I would want to feel and what I would want to change if I were standing in their shoes.

I think compassion Is the only helpful stance:

It obviously feels good to see somebody happy, but it doesn’t feel good to see anybody unhappy, depressed, suffering.

Would it help if I shared their feelings? It would make me miserable as well and reinforce their negative assessment of whatever the situation may be.

What would it take to make us both feel better?

Now I am focusing on possible solutions, on encouragement and goals. I can offer suggestions or at least hope. Of course, it is always up to the person to the take the offered hand and get on their feet.

Throwing a fish to a starving man feeds him for one day. And that’s not a bad thing. But, over time, it makes him feel inferior, worthless and weak. Teaching him to fish, on the other hand  ….. The old adage has got it right.

… and that’s where I see a difference between helping and supporting. But that’s for another musing.


You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *