Empathy, Sympathy and Compassion | Explanations, Definitions and Examples

Empathy, Sympathy and Compassion | Explanations, Definitions and Examples

Empathy, Sympathy and Compassion

Three different, but intimately related feelings: this is empathy, sympathy and compassion. Simple explanations of their differences.


Etymology: “what we feel inside”
“I see that you are sad and I understand why. ”

It is the ability to feel the emotions of the other and to put yourself in their shoes. We then share his feelings because we come to identify with him and understand what he may be feeling. Understanding is the basis of empathy. For example, a friend loses his job and feels helpless. We can have empathy because we are able to imagine how it would feel if such a situation happened to us. However, you feel a softer version of what the other is actually going through because you have a certain objectivity. A certain distance between us and the emotions is established by the fact that we know that it is not us who are experiencing the tragedy, but the other. Empathy is learned and developed.


Etymology: “what we experience with others”
“I’m sorry for what is happening to you. ”

It is said that sympathy is our participation in the emotions (positive or negative) or pain of the other. We identify – sometimes feel – what affects others because we are aware of what they are going through. Here too, there remains an emotional distance that allows us not to take this emotion on our shoulders. We are sensitive to it, nothing more. The actions taken towards this person help him to create positive emotions, a certain relief.


Etymology: “to suffer with”
“I understand your pain. I’ll spend the evening with you so you don’t feel alone. ”

Compassion is a feeling that leads us to be sensitive and touched by what happens to others (their pain, their suffering, their experience, etc.). We feel the pain. We are immersed in what the other is experiencing as emotions so much that we look for ways to relieve or console them. Compassion would actually be the transformation of empathy into action. We do not remain without doing anything by simply observing the misfortune of others, we live it and we look for solutions. Compassion requires sustained emotional involvement. While it is good to have compassion, one cannot wish it to last due to the emotional load too intense.

Acknowledging the feelings/problems of others.Understand other people’s feelings or experiences, and feel them for a moment as if you were feeling yourself.Human emotions / feelings that arise as a result of the suffering of others.
Understanding other people’s experiences.Feel it personally.This feeling usually leads to efforts to reduce the suffering of others.
Example 1
Hey it’s dark in there? Poor you, want some candy?Hey I know it’s dark in there. I will accompany you there.Oh, it’s dark there. I’ll bring a flashlight and accompany you there.
Example 2
Doctors comfort patients and their families.The doctor helps the patient very much because he has felt the weight of a similar experience.The doctor helps the patient earnestly (earnestly) because he has felt the weight of a similar experience and tried to give medicine.

Differences in the Meaning of Sympathy, Empathy and Compassion

It means feeling with other people. If you sympathize with someone, you share or understand that person’s feelings.

It means understanding the feelings or experiences of others, and feeling them for a moment as if you were the one who felt it yourself. If you empathize with another person, it means you share in that person’s sadness.

Compassion (mercy)
It is a human emotion that arises as a result of the suffering of others. More powerful than empathy, this feeling usually elicits efforts to reduce the suffering of others.

Relationship between Sympathy, Empathy and compassion

The basis of the relationship, whether sympathy or empathy is feelings, how to acknowledge and understand the feelings or circumstances of others who are suffering.

Both sympathy and empathy mean caring for others, but empathy has more value, because it feels the “I” in “you”, really feels the sadness experienced, not just understands and then comforts.
Empathy is harder to achieve for many reasons. Not only must we actively listen to other people’s concerns without judging, we must also be honest with ourselves and with others about how we feel as listeners.

This relationship builds a bond that builds trust and understanding that is positive and healthy for both people. Later, it may be appropriate to find a solution. Nothing in this world makes me feel better than when trusted family or friends understand my situation. It makes me feel better because they allow me to know where I am, and I often feel lost in my life.

Compassion motivates people to go out of their way to help the physical, mental or emotional suffering of others and themselves. Compassion is often thought to have a sensitive, emotional aspect to suffering.

What is the definition of empathy?

Empathy is a human faculty that allows us to understand others by identifying their problem or pain.

Empathy can be divided into two sub-categories or rather two sub-skills for the human being who expresses it:

Empathy can be thought or an intellectual faculty: if when you see a person who blushes you deduce that he is embarrassed or if this person is crying and that you deduce that he is sad, when that person didn’t tell you, you empathize. Empathy is then a property that allows you to understand another person without them having expressed themselves.
Empathy can be part of thought and emotion: if at the same time that you understand the suffering of others you are able to feel a very attenuated version of their pain. It is this faculty which will make that for example sometimes if you see a person cut the finger, you feel the pain very fleetingly and you touch your finger! In general, to feel this empathy you have to have experienced the same type of pain as the other person.
Empathy is therefore one of the fundamental characteristics of man and of his ability to live together.

Not having empathy is extremely detrimental because it prevents the one without empathy from identifying the emotions of those around him and therefore from interacting in an appropriate way. Having too much empathy is also detrimental as it causes a willingness to solve the problems of those around you by depriving them of their emotions. There follows a feeling of unwarranted ingratitude.

Empathy is part of the experience.

What is the definition of sympathy?

The notion of sympathy is a very different notion from the notion of empathy in that it allows us to keep a certain emotional distance from others. Sympathy leads us to take an interest in the life, emotions and possible problems of someone other than us, because that person is considered attractive.

If nowadays in common parlance, sympathy no longer designates that the natural inclination of one person for another, in the psychological sense, it designates the capacity of a person to put himself in the place of the other to select effectively how to behave with an affected person.

The difference with empathy then lies in this subtlety that makes you able to understand others but that you do not feel for them. This is why you enjoy in this position from a greater distance.

It is the sympathy you have for someone who can push you to offer to help.

Sympathy is part of the selection.

What is the definition of compassion?

The word compassion literally means in Latin “to suffer with”. Compassion is therefore the ability of a person to put himself completely and completely in the place of others until he feels his suffering. Compassion can be felt for anyone, whether they are close to you or a complete stranger, it does not need to engage my interest as in the case of sympathy.

Compassion is in this sense an exacerbated form of empathy with the difference that it gives rise to actions. Compassion leads those who feel it to seek and find concrete solutions for those who are in distress.

Sources: PinterPandai, Compassion it, Chopra

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons


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