I am truly an advocate for a good ‘ole inspirational YouTube video. Whether I’m watching Casey Neistat, Ellentube, or a random individual video, I always plan on exiting out of the page with a new outlook on life. The other day, I was lucky enough to find a video about the different between empathy and sympathy. It was an animation, made from a speech given by inspirational writer Brene Brown. I know that she is an inspirational writer because I have one of her books, “Daring Greatly” on my side table (not too sure when I’ll even start reading the book but that’s a story for a different time).
Growing up, and even now, I tend to hear “give her a little sympathy,” quite often. I always just assumed that when I was sympathetic towards someone, I was just showing them that I cared and that I felt sorry for them, point blank. Little did I know, sympathy is not the path you want to take when someone is hurting and you are trying to comfort them.
Brene Brown explains that when someone is sympathetic towards another, they base their responses off of “at least” rather than “I’m sorry”. A sympathetic individual yearns for the opportunity to paint a sliver of silver around their dark cloud of hurt, making the individual in pain feel no better than they were before. An empathetic individual on the other hand, bases their responses on four attributes.
The first being the ability to be perspective, being able to listen to what the other has to say, and reassuring them that their feelings are being heard and understood. From this, the empathetic individual stays away from judgement, focusing on what they can do to make the person feel better, rather than who they should blame. The third and fourth aspect run together, and involve recognizing emotion in the other and being able to communicate it back to them. To be empathetic, one must try to feel what the other is feeling, rather than just thinking about it.
By making it a goal to be a more empathetic person, it is such an eye-opener. You become closer to your friends, and make it known that you are a person that they can always come to when they need a shoulder to lean on.