Empathy is the ability to stay present with another person's feelings. Sympathy is feeling pity or sorrow for someone’s suffering. Empathy heals us and sympathy diminishes us; empathy connects us and sympathy drives separation.
According to Dr. Brené Brown, There are Four Qualities of Empathy:
1 - Perspective taking The ability to take someone else's perspective and recognize their perspective as truth.
2 - Avoiding judgments.
Judgments cloud clarity.
3 - Recognizing emotion in another person.
Find a space inside of you that knows the other person’s feelings and feels with him and not for him. Feeling for the other person over time could drain your energy and lead to compassion fatigue but feeling with someone is a vulnerable place which leads to empathic connection.
4 - Communicating and understanding.
Communicate with and understand a person rather than try to fix their problems. Connection is what heals us. We don’t need someone to offer a solution, or to tell us that everything is alright.
Dr. Brené Brown on Empathy
During a difficult period in life, a kind friend or family member who can listen without any judgment or agenda can really help us process our pain.
Unfortunately, many people do not have anyone around them who can deeply listen because listening without judgment is a skill most of us never learned. In that case, a kind and caring psychotherapist can stay with our pain and eventually teach us how to embrace our difficult emotions without getting overwhelmed. We are relational beings and our emotions are the link that connects and heals us.