sympathy and compassion
Sympathy and Compassion
Sympathy is enabling.
Compassion is empowering.
Let that just sit with you for a while. See how it transforms and starts to apply to all the past experiences you have had. I know I did and WOW what an alarming realization.
When I am truly connecting with someone as the conversation unfolds, it is actually a compassionate manifestation and never a sympathetic hand hold that is transmitted.
When I am being sympathetic I am basically saying ” yes you have a problem and poor you ! ” By choosing this response I find that I am disabling the person by allowing them to remain wounded. I do not let them grow and evolve out of their unfortunate circumstances and continue to allow them to wallow.
Sometimes they need to wallow.
They may need to process their sorrowful feelings, grind out those emotions and come out stronger at the end. Who am I to judge how fast they should do this ? Yet by my sympathetic response to their situation, all I do is essentially hold their head under water for a little longer.
We grow up and out with a helping hand and not with a hand that bears no grasp. A compassionate response holds space for them to be heard. For them to acknowledge that they are not alone in their plight and help is abound in the form of a listening partner. The out stretched hand will hold strong when it is ready to be grasped. Silence and being still when a story of woe unfolds helps it to coil out faster. Like a spring it pounces out of the story teller along with all the rawness of the gut wrenching and resistance that accompanies a person’s troubles.
But it needs space to pounce.
Many a time I find I oscillate into a sympathetic ear instead of a compassionate one as I find the story similar to my own, or familiar in some fashion and I no longer choose to hold space for my own story as I choose not to heal. And so I dive into the sympathetic “poor you” which is in fact my own identified ” poor ME !!”
Sympathy and compassion are daughters of the mind and heart. Sisters to the same soul. Both are dancers to a unique conversation. Yet despite their origins, competitors of a different creation.
It is a fine line that is crossed in every conversation when one imparts their open wound for all to bare witness. The process heals faster with compassion and less with sympathy.
three little words that may be the game changer next time you or I are in a tense and emotionally charged conversation….. ” I hear you…”