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Empathy, Sympathy and Compassion—Do You Know the Difference? By Roxane Burnett

Many Lightworkers believe they are contributing and helping others by offering sympathy or empathy to those in trouble or in pain. There is a vast difference between empathy, sympathy and compassion. I would like to suggest you choose compassion the next time someone you care for is not doing well. Here is why.

Empathy
There is an important distinction between empathy and sympathy and compassion. When the beautiful bride reaches for a drink, trips and falls into the deep end of the swimming pool, she completely soaks her gown and ruins her hair. Empathy is when you match her emotion and jump into the pool, fully dressed, and try to save her. As you know, drowning people tend to struggle and drag the rescuer down with them. And as Empathizer, that’s exactly what happens – you get all wet and nearly drown. The bride continues to make a mess of herself in the water.

I’ve met many empathic healers and most of them offer their healing by taking on or feeling the pain of their client. Many empaths are personally invested in this martyr-like healing method. Their identity and value is wrapped up in running another’s pain through their body. I remember the case of one very successful empath who, after she passed away, was found to be suffering from many deadly diseases and illnesses—any one of which could have caused her passing. She chose to heal others by taking their pain into her body and soon her body was riddled with the illnesses of others.

If you choose to empathically heal others, you might consider clearing out the energy of your clients after each session, or better yet, creating a way to assist with their issue without running it through your body. The Rose Tool is excellent for this purpose. Use the Rose to make separations after a healing session, or place the Rose Tool between you and the client to prevent their illness from entering your space. Massage therapists can place a rose on the palm of each hand.

Sympathy
Back to the wedding reception: When the beautiful bride falls into the pool, the Sympathizer also matches the excited energy and wades into the water, waist deep, to reach as far as his arms will stretch in the attempt to save the beautiful, splashing, angry, bride. The result? Sympathizer is not successful at all, just really wet and tired. Like empathy, sympathy comes from a place of disempowerment.

Pulling someone out of the situation they created for themselves (and we do create all our situations) doesn’t assist them in untangling from the patterns and habits that got them there in the first place. You might know of friends who come to you again and again with the same issue and demonstrate no change in their behavior that might pull themselves out of the mud.

Compassion
As Compassionate Rescuer, when the beautiful bride nose-dives into the pool, you calmly sit at the edge of the swimming pool with a long pole and offer it to the now, not-so-beautiful, bride. ―Oh my, I see you’re in a really messy predicament. What do you think would be the best way for you to change this? Here is a strong stick, if you are interested in using it.

You don’t get wet and she has the empowering experience of solving her own problem and pulling herself out of her situation. Empathizer and Sympathizer may be forcing assistance and advice onto the bride that she may not be willing, able or ready to accept. The Compassionate One gives her a choice and the tool to help herself. Such a compassionate hand may completely change the bride’s life to one of greater Personal Power and Confidence. That is truly assisting another to step up, dry themselves off, laugh at themselves and be who they came here to be. Just like you have.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
An author and teacher, Roxane has been offering tools for developing intuition and Personal Power to individuals, businesses and women’s groups since 1994. Following a successful career as an art director for two large corporations and as manager of her own design firm, she trained as a Life Coach and Mastering Alchemy teacher.

Roxane’s seminars include: Spiritual Abilities and Tools for Intuition, Personal Energy Management and Female Alchemy. She also has been featured on television, radio and in national publications both in the US and Australia. She is the cofounder of Mastering Alchemy and presents this work with Jim.

PLEASE NOTE: Universal Copyright 2010 is authorized here. Please distribute freely as long as the website www.masteringalchemy.com is included as the resource and this information is distributed on a noncommercial no charge basis.

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9 Responses to “Empathy, Sympathy and Compassion—Do You Know the Difference? By Roxane Burnett”

  1. Stephen says:

    Compassion does not come out of a vacuum. It requires either sympathy or empathy to germinate.
    You make some valid points otherwise. Not with you on this statement
    ” (and we do create all our situations)” In nearly every situation there are other parties involved: co creators.

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  2. Anthony says:

    Compassion is who we truly are, it is a force that exists before the universe came into being and after the universe fades away. You can’t “do” compassion, you can only “be” compassion. Empathy and sympathy are illusions created by the human mind to make it appear that we are “doing” something to alleviate the suffering of others. You can’t “be” empathy or sympathy, you can only “do” empathy and sympathy. Let go of the illusion that you are the doer and the natural state of compassion will arise within you and you will offer the appropriate service to the person or situation that is presented to you.

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  3. Janet says:

    I have found that I have experienced symptoms that close friends are experiencing even to the point of feeling I was having a heart attack of my own when a friend passed. This is not something I choose. It just happens. Now I just wonder,when I am feeling some particular symptom or just feel “odd”, if I am feeling something that someone I know is going through. Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I just have come to accept it and offer a prayer when I feel it, for whomever it may be.

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  4. Carol says:

    Although I have a problem with suffering where ever I find it, I understand the gift of compassion is the only method that creates opportunity for growth. Yes we create and co-create our problems to learn from. There is no learning in sympathy but if we fall and a loving one helps us clean the cut, a healing takes place. With empathy there is an understanding of the feeling others may be going through and having passed that way, from there we can know/show compassion.
    Compassion can only be present when there are those who are in need it.

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  5. Leila says:

    Thanks for these definitions of compassion, empathy and sympathy. If you look up compassion in the dictionary it says ‘deep sympathy’. Sympathy is defined as harmony of feeling between persons. So, compassion could be defined as deep harmony of feeling between persons. To me that suggests that the compassionate one is responding to the deep desires of the one in need of help. Anyone would prefer that kind of help to another I think.

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  6. AdminCyndi says:

    Hi Julie,
    You can subscribe to our ezine by email through the link below (and you get some great free gifts)

    http://evolutionezine.com/free-evolution-starter-kit/

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  7. Susan says:

    Need your opinion. How should a best friend handle the below situation?
    The person went thru major changes of major move, someone drowning in their tub and now just lost their job. Have been in therapy and on depression medication for a year and they are alone and devastated at this moment, feeling like they don’t know how to handle things. At this moment best friend is not having anything to do with her which hurts badly.
    What should the person expect in this situation from a best friend?
    What actions are considered compassion in this situation?

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  8. Ina says:

    Can you explain more about Rose Tool?
    THX

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  9. AdminCyndi says:

    Hi Ina – if you visit http://masteringalchemy.com and sign up for a free membership there is a ton of free material – including really in depth training on the rose.

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