Empathetic or Compassionate!
There is a difference between Empathy and Compassion. I am finding in my own life that to have empathy is a good thing, it helps me to get to compassion. But people do not necessarily want to experience my empathy, they want my undivided,unwavering, steadfast, compassion.
Empathy is the capacity to recognize feelings that are being experienced by another. Empathy refers to the understanding and sharing of a specific emotional state with another person.( what often causes me to be able to recognize feelings in others is because I have experienced them too)
Compassion is the virtue of empathy for the suffering of others. It is regarded as a fundamental part of human love. ( again, in my experience, compassion is often arrived at because of my human experiences and growth)
SO….compassion is the quality or trait of empathy that people want. They do not want the part of empathy that is personal to me. They do not want to know how I got to compassion….they just want my compassion.
Is this selfish on their part? I can definitely see how you might think so. But we need to take a step back and realize that the person in need at the moment is the one you are offering your empathy to…… and if that is the case, then being the good friend that you are, you need to give them what they need, in the manner with which they need it. And what they need, usually, is you to give them compassion. In other words… sit down,shut up, and listen!
So, next time I am with a friend who has a situation, I will listen and be compassionate but skip the personal empathy! Do not get me wrong….a person should have empathy, but empathy does not have to be vomited all over everybody in the form of personal stories that are similar to their situation. They may not want to hear it. Some people may feel as though you are always comparing everything to you and therefore….it is always about you. Ah-ha! And that could not be further from the truth, right? Perception is everything!
It does not matter how I have arrived at a place where I am able to offer my compassion…what matters is that I am there for them and they are able to deal with their situation. And if I can make that a little bit easier….so much the better!
** Of course there is always the argument that your true friends would know you better than that and would never think you were offering anything but true compassion anyway! But…this is life and we are not always dealing with friends. We will be called upon to support others who may not know us so well…..and we need to know how to be there for them in a manner that will benefit them.
The next step is to achieve Dynamic compassion, or Ahimsa ! More about that later!