Empathy Vs Compassion

The events of the past few weeks here in the UK have drawn on many of our emotions and we have all been struggling to comprehend and deal with such tragic events.

Empathy & Compassion are two words frequently used to describe an emotional response, and many people think they are the same thing but there is a very definite difference between the two.

Empathy is an emotional response to a persons situation or wellbeing. It is a word that is often associated with very distressing circumstances where you try and understand how a particular individual may be feeling. Imagining yourself in that same situation and playing out in your mind all the thoughts, feelings and emotions that you perceive them to be experiencing. By showing empathy you are creating an emotion towards that person and although you are feeling the same emotions as that person you don’t take actions on your feelings and you don’t try and alleviate the emotions of the person you are feeling empathy for.

Compassion is a word that is used to express the same feeling as empathy. Yet when you feel compassion you have more of a desire to take action and help. You totally understand a person’s pain and feel all the same emotions as empathy but you have more of a desire to take action and physically help.

A great example of empathy and compassion can be found in death. When we hear that someone has lost a loved one we create all the emotions of empathy. We can relate to all the same feelings of loss and place ourselves in that persons situation, we send a card or a letter to express our sympathy but take no action. If we show the individual compassion we understand their emotions and feelings but we will want to take some action to try and alleviate their suffering. We may want to provide physical reassurance with hugs or we may want to help in any way we can to make a situation just that little bit easier for a sufferer.

We all have the ability to show empathy & compassion, it’s a normal natural response we have but many people, for whatever reason, chose to ignore its presence.

Empathy & compassion has never been so evident as it has in the last few weeks. They are two of the most powerful emotions we feel and have the ability to turn a tragic event into a joining of souls to help alleviate others suffering in times of great need.

Make today a day that you search your inner emotions and look for empathy & compassion…they are there waiting for you to use and the difference that they make is beyond measure.