This is the second episode in Molly and Sara’s new podcast series Living Fearlessly. Each week, they will dive deeper into the things that we can all do to live fearlessly for ourselves and our soul growth. This week, Molly and Sara discuss sympathy versus empathy. They talk about the differences between the two, the importance of having empathy towards others rather than sympathy, and and how we can live fearlessly with empathy.
Molly and Sara give the definitions of sympathy and empathy and go in depth about each one. Being sympathetic is missing out on the opportunity to look at that person’s situation and perspective and missing out on the ability to make that person feel validated for their feelings.
6:22-Molly shares experiences when someone is being sympathetic and how that makes her feel.
9:32-Sara discusses the phrase “I’m sorry you feel that way” and why she feels this is counter-productive and not helpful when wanting to receive or give empathy.
Listening is important, and we all just want someone to acknowledge what we are saying and understand what we are trying to communicate. If we choose to stop and hear the other person, we actually break down the walls of uncomfortability. If we can stop our own dialogue in our head, then we can open the lines of communication. Empathizing has everything to do with being able to hear that person, see their perspective, and acknowledge that what they are feeling and experiencing is true for them.
Empathy is also about realizing that other people may not be able to understand our situation in the way we want them to. When we see things from only our perspective, and we are unwilling to see the other perspective for that situation, we can become judgmental. Just because we know one truth to be ours does not make that everyone else’s truth.
Also, we might be afraid to speak up to people for fear that people will feel sorry. We may also not want to deal with the uncomfortableness when we are honest with how we are really feeling. The more we learn to be empathetic instead of sympathetic, the easier it is to have an open dialogue with others.
Empathy is the soul and sympathy is just the surface. To create meaning in our lives, we need to be connecting to our soul. We can’t do that unless we are being empathetic.
We need to set the intention to be the change. People will have to start to change their shape because we are changing our shape. If we live fearlessly, have the courage to show empathy towards others, and be honest with how we are feeling, we will create a cataclysmic effect.
Call to action: How can we pay it forward with empathy?