Empathy Vs Sympathy: How To Practice True Empathy

 / 

, ,
Empathy

“Learning to stand in somebody else’s shoes, to see through their eyes, that’s how peace begins. And it’s up to you to make that happen. Empathy is a quality of character that can change the world.” – Barack Obama

Throughout my life, I have noticed that we, as humans, have a tendency to sugarcoat each other’s experiences by minimizing them, telling them that things will get better or that “this too shall pass.” While our intention is usually good, the effects are not always helpful.

As Dr. Brené Brown says, true empathy is being able to take someone’s perspective, remove judgment, and meet them where they are. It is like crawling into a dark hole with them and holding space for their experience. True empathy never starts with “at least.”

One tip that I found extremely helpful in my graduate studies was about learning to implement the acronym “WAIT” into my therapeutic processes with patients. When I’m listening to someone describe their experience or explain their feelings, I may have the urge to jump in and give my feedback at that moment.

Related: 44 Empathetic Statements That Will Make You The Greatest Listener

If I ask myself, “Why am I talking?” it helps me to check my motives and implement a sacred pause. This pause during a brief moment of silence could be incredibly crucial for that person to continue digging further.

We can use “WAIT” in our daily conversations and interactions with those in our lives. If someone shares something incredibly painful to you, the urge to “silver line” their experience may be visceral. We may want to share our own experience, tell them about someone who went through the same thing or provide some spiritual or motivational anecdote. But is this always helpful?

showing empathy

When applying this tool, I find that more often than not, I am giving someone my two cents, because it is about me. This doesn’t make me inherently selfish and self-seeking, but rather a normal human being who tends to be egocentric by design.

That’s okay; we need not shame ourselves for our human nature. What we can do, however, is grow into a person who is able to hold space for our loved ones and be present for those moments of genuine empathy.

Related: 8 People Skills You Need To Succeed In Your Work and Relationships

If it doesn’t feel uncomfortable at first, you may be doing it wrong. I definitely subscribe to the notion that we grow through our discomfort. If we tell ourselves, “I’ll be willing to do that once I’m more comfortable,” we may be waiting forever. The reality is that we get comfortable by walking directly through the discomfort.

So try it out! May empathy be with you.


Written By Hannah Rose 
Originally Appeared On Psychology Today 
Empathy PIN

— Share —

— About the Author —

Leave a Reply



Up Next

6 Most Empathic Zodiac Signs: Are You One of Them?

Most Empathic Zodiac Signs: Do You Have The Super Power?

We all know what empathy is; it’s seeing things through the eyes of someone else, not just understanding their emotions, but feeling them too! And the 6 most empathic zodiac signs are natural at this!

These are the most compassionate zodiac signs owing to their innate zodiac traits. But before delving into what zodiac signs are empaths, let’s understand what is empathy first.

What Is Empathy?



Up Next

Are Empaths On The Autism Spectrum? Exploring Similarities And Uniqueness

Are Empaths on the Autism Spectrum? Important Similarities

Ever thought, “are empaths on the autism spectrum”? Let’s explore the shared traits and unique aspects of both. Discover the gifts and hurdles that come with being an empath or being on the autism spectrum.

Are Empaths on the Autism Spectrum?

autism and empathy

I often get asked the question “Are empaths on the autistic spectrum” because of their similar tendencies to experience sensory overload from noise, ligh



Up Next

Empath or Enabler? Truths About Toxic Empathy And 5 Ways To Break Free

How Toxic Empathy Is Ruining Your Life and What You Can Do

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be overly sensitive and emotionally drained by the problems of others? Can too much empathy be harmful? Is there such a thing as toxic empathy?

While empathy is considered a valuable trait that promotes understanding and compassion, there is a lesser-known phenomenon called toxic empathy that can have detrimental effects on both the empath and those around them. 

Today, let us explore what is toxic empathy disorder, what causes toxic empathy, can too much empathy be a bad thing, and learn strategies to deal with it.

What is Toxic Empathy?



Up Next

Empath Vs Empathetic: 7 Differences Between An Empath And Empathetic Person

Empath Vs Empathetic: Differences Between The Two

When we talk about feelings for others, two words often come up: “empath” and “empathetic person.” While they may seem similar, there are quite a few differences between these two terms. This article is going to discuss the differences between an empath vs empathetic person.

Think of an empath as someone who feels what others feel, like they can actually feel other people’s emotions. On the other hand, an empathetic person understands and cares about others’ emotions but doesn’t absorb them as their own.

Read on to know more about the spectrum of being an empath vs empathetic person.



Up Next

The Healing Power: How Empathy Boosts Your Immune System

How Empathy Can Improve Your Immune Response: Best Way

Empathy isn’t just about understanding others—it could boost your health too. Learn how empathy can improve your immune response and be a unique pathway to well-being.

How does empathy work on a biological level to boost your immune system? 

Research indicates that you can heal faster when your body receives messages such empathy, kindness, and tolerance. These trigger an initial immune response—then your body’s natural healing forces can kick in too.



Up Next

7 Surprising Triggers For Empaths: Identifying And Coping Strategies For Emotional Harmony

Hidden Triggers for Empaths: Understanding & Managing Them

Do you often feel overwhelmed by others’ emotions? Do their emotions suddenly change your mood for no clear reason? If yes, then it is highly likely that you are an empath, a person who is extremely sensitive to the energies and emotions of others. And that’s why you need to know about triggers for empaths.

Today let us focus on understanding emotional triggers for empaths, how empath anxiety triggers can impact your well-being, and what you can do to navigate these triggers in your everyday life.

Who is an empath?

An empath is someone who has high levels of empathy and is attuned to others’ energies and



Up Next

What Is Nonviolent Communication? 20+ Tips To Practice Empathy In Communication 

What Is Nonviolent Communication And How To Practice It

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where words escalated into conflict, leaving you feeling unheard and misunderstood? Communication is vital for human relationships, yet it often turns out to be a source of tension and discord. So let’s explore what is nonviolent communication (NVC) and how to practice NVC.

What is Nonviolent Communication (NVC)?

Nonviolent Communication is a powerful framework that can change our way of speaking and relating to others leading to understanding, empathy and peaceful resolution.

But exactly what is nonviolent communication? Developed by psy